Vodun- Trying to grasp the ungraspable is a photo series by by Frederic Vanwalleghem (1978, Belgium). Primitive religions and their rituals are difficult to grasp to the western world. Projecting our own beliefs, customs and behaviors, we imagine black magic, psychotropic plants and group hysteria - a sensational, almost dangerous savagery. Vodun, the national religion of Benin, which revolves around polytheism and spirit possession, counts 50 million followers worldwide (that's four times the number of Jews or Mormons!)
Curious to dig deeper at a vastly misunderstood belief system, Belgian documentary photographer Frederic Vanwalleghem immersed himself in Vodun culture and spent some time with a family in Ouidah, considered the capital of Vodun in West Africa. From his experience and encounters, and especially his participation in two spirit possession ceremonies, were born a spellbinding photo series and a short video documentary.
His dense, black and white images alternate between beautiful, quiet, sometimes otherworldly portraits, and his contrasted, incredibly dynamic compositions which provoke an almost cinematic disquiet. A lovely way to transcribe the spirit of a religion for which the realm of the living and that of the dead mingle on a daily basis, defined and bound not only by drums, dance and trances, but also a communal sense of safety, relief, and belonging.
Read the essay about this project and see more work at the photographer's website:http://www.fredericvanwalleghem.com