Designing Around a Haitian Vodou Ritual
MoDP - Carl Lostritto - Fall 2016
"Vodou is often misunderstood by Westerners who come to it through pop culture or folklore, where it is often tinged with racist stereotypes and legends. In reality, there are typically no dolls, no animal sacrifices, no dark magic. Simply speaking, Vodou rituals consist of music, rhythm, theater and dance, performed with such acute intensity that bodily movements access something transcendent and divine. Vodou practitioners frequently aim to experience divine possession, as a spirit flows through their physical form, achieving ecstasy through the tools of everyday life." - Frank, Priscilla. (08/22/2016) These Stunning Photos Take You Deep Inside Vodou Rituals In Haiti from the Huffington Post.
I- Understanding the ritual through annotative drawings
The goal was to make apparent the underlying structure of an experience. In this series of drawings, I group programs and annotate what actions are being done by each ring, open or closed. This encompasses the drummers, the dancers, the possessed and, the offerings made around the Poto Mitan. They showcase the disturbances between the multiple programs. The person possessed becomes a mediator between the spiritual and the tangible.
There is rhythm everywhere; even within the very core of Haiti. This drawing uses the same language as the previous ones to demonstrate the alternation of movements that happens during the ceromony. This back and forth becoming a ongoing sequence.
II- From annotated drawings to physical representations
Here the model alludes to the temporal aspect of the Vodou ritual along with the energy charging this experience.
III- Redesigning a space to accommodate the ritual
My site was located top of a supermarket. Keeping the columns from the Initial structure the new design was developed to frame an outdoor space without enclosing it. In fact, Voodoo ceremonies use all of the elements including the ground they dance upon.
To bring on a protective layer onto the site, the structure itself is meant to be misleading to those who are not familiar. All the while, it is also an experience providing holes to peak through on the path towards the ceremonial space. In the side view it is completely porous whereas on the top view it is opaque.