Posted by: lisaparavisini | September 13, 2013

New ‘Vodou’ Exhibit Opening at New Jersey’s WheatonArts


A new exhibit, “Remembering Ginen: Haitian Vodou Bottles, Flags and Vèvè,” opens Sept. 20 in the Museum of American Glass at WheatonArts and continues through Jan. 5, 2014. This exhibition is one of a series of major presentations of Vodou arts at arts and cultural institutions around the world that aim to overcome the misconceptions and misinterpretations of the Haitian arts and culture and to inspire understanding and appreciation of Haitian creativity and artistic expressions.

Vodou arts reflect the memories of Ginen, the African homeland and the spiritual abode of the ancestors, thus creating a sense of cultural identity, shared aesthetics and social cohesiveness among the Haitian people. Vodou arts are integrated into the Vodou ceremonies, but the Vodou lwa (spirits) also serve as muses inspiring Haitian artists to create vivid art works that relate to universal human values and join us all in a dialogue about the meaning of the past in the present, harmony and balance, life, hope, and possible future.

The exhibition’s major focus is the artworks of contemporary Haitian artist Kesler Pierre, who creates the sacred bottles that adorn Vodou altars, the ceremonial rattles (ason) used in Vodou performances and the elaborate vèvè designs that derive from cosmograms traced on the floors during Vodou rituals. Each of his bottles is designed to incorporate the physical representation and/or the vèvè associated with the individual lwa for whom it is intended. Pierre uses paint to present a contemporary artistic vision of the traditional beaded bottles. But he also uses glitter to achieve a sparkling effect similar to that provided by the use of beads. The exhibition also includes displays of traditional beaded Vodou bottles that offer a comparison of techniques and designs. Some are created by the Haitian artist Lina Michel. Others came from the private collections of Lois Wilcken and Angus Kress Gillespie.

The displays showcase several painted-on-glass sacred rattles (ason) created by Pierre. Ason (sacred rattle) and bells (klochèt) are also used in rituals. Ason is traditionally made of gourds and adorned with beads. Like to the bottles, the painted-on-glass sacred rattles (ason) present contemporary interpretations of this art form as deemed appropriate by the artist. They were created in partnership with the WheatonArts Glass Studio where the glass rattles (ason) were made and later painted by Pierre in preparation for this exhibition.

Pierre’s vèvè designs are symbolic representations of individual lwa (spirits). The shape of the vèvè reflects the character of the lwa for whom it is created.

Displays of Haitian Vodou flags (drapo) complete the exhibition design thus providing a more comprehensive understanding of the Vodou ceremonies and their meaning as reflected in the art works of the Haitian flag makers. The flags in this exhibition are a valuable part of the private collection of Nancy Josephson and Ted Frankel.
Pierre’s photographs of Vodou rituals and additional explanatory panels provide the necessary cultural context for symbolism and artistry thus contributing to the overall experience of the Haitian culture and artistic expressions.

Additional programs being offered in conjunction with the exhibit:

■ Haitian Vèvè Designs Workshop with Kesler Pierre. November 9 from 2 to 4 p.m. Pierre will demonstrate and teach Vodou vèvè designs, while explaining their meanings and significance in the Haitian traditional culture. He will interpret the story of the vèvè designs as symbolic representations of individual lwa (spirits), who are a part of the Vodou pantheon and will explain the meaning of the Vèvè as a sacred sign drawn on the floor either at the foot of the altar or around the center pole in a Vodou temple. Participants will learn how the vèvè’s shape reflects the character of the lwa for whom it is traced, create their own vèvè designs, and learn how to understand both the meaning and the artistry of the vèvè in the context of other Vodou arts. Additional visual works will be provided as well as handouts for future practice.

■ Spirits in Sequins: Vodou Flags of Haiti. A Special Presentation by Nancy Josephson. Nov. 10 from Noon to 1 p.m. Josephson will share her experiences with this unique art form. She will focus on flag making techniques while interpreting the cultural beliefs at the core of the flag designs and a folk lore expressed in the outstanding works of the Haitian artists.

■ “Remembering Ginen: Traditional Music and Dance of Haiti” featuring La Troupe Makandal of New York. Nov. 10 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Haitian people remember and celebrate their history through the arts, and these include music and dance. Makandal’s work also derives from Vodou, an Afro-Haitian spiritual practice that honors and serves the ancestors and the forces of nature. The Troupe’s presentation features a suite created from the dances, songs and drumming styles brought to Haiti from West Africa and the Congo region. The program tells the stories of the various peoples who survived enslavement, struggled for and won independence, and established the modern state of Haiti. The program also includes an interactive music and dance workshop for audience members.
For additional information about the Museum of American Glass and/or WheatonArts call
800-998-4552 or 856-825-6800 or visit

WheatonArts is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Open Labor Day. Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

WheatonArts strives to ensure the accessibility of its exhibitions, events and programs to all persons with disabilities. Provide two weeks notice for additional needs. Patrons with hearing and speech disabilities may contact WheatonArts through the New Jersey Relay Service (TRS) 800-852-7899 or by dialing 711.

Funding has been made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the New Jersey Cultural Trust, and the Cumberland County Urban Enterprise Zone. WheatonArts receives general operating support from the New Jersey Historical Commission, Division of Cultural Affairs in the New Jersey Department of State and is supported in part by the New Jersey Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | September 13, 2013

Arcade Fire’s Win Butler Sheds Light on ‘Reflektor’


Arcade Fire are finally shedding light on the band’s upcoming new album, Erin Coulehan reports in Rolling Stone. Frontman Win Butler talked about the process of recording Reflektor, due October 29th, in an interview that aired today on BBC Radio 1.

Inspired by trips to Haiti and Jamaica (the album features an experimental rhythm section with two Haitian percussionists to give the album a voodoo-like feel), the band wrote 50 or 60 new songs, then refined them. Many of the tunes, including first single “Reflektor,” stretch past seven minutes, prompting the musicians to make the album a double LP so they could include all the songs they wanted. “[It] made more sense to stretch it out to two records,” Butler said. “I never wanted to be in a band that could never play whatever music we wanted to.”

Arcade Fire’s ‘Reflektor’ and 25 More Albums You Need to Hear This Fall

Arcade Fire mostly produced the new songs themselves before teaming with former LCD Soundsystem mastermind James Murphy. “If you can get James to tap his foot, you’re on the right track,” Butler said, laughing.

The singer also talked about the build-up to the release this week of the single and video for “Reflektor,” saying a cryptic graffiti campaign was a sort of “weird art project,” kind of like a movie trailer. “I remember being a kid and watching something like the ‘Thriller’ video on TV, or just something that everyone sees at the same time,” he said. “You know, like creating a time, like throwing a party.”

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | September 13, 2013

‘Mary Could Dance’ at Queen’s Hall


Mary Could Dance written by Richard Ragoobarsingh is one of the most popular, loved and award-winning plays in the history of theatre in Trinidad and Tobago. The dynamic play, which is heralded as an unparalleled exemplar of theatre in Trinidad and Tobago, is finally coming to an end after several showings as part of a farewell tour that commenced in 2012, Trinidad’s Newsday reports.

The play has run for 16 years and has been showcased in Grenada, St Vincent, Barbados, St Lucia and Ireland where it has been received consistently with standing ovations. 

Mary takes her last dance with its original cast and emotionally drops the curtain on what inarguably has been a quality benchmark of local theatre, in fact copping 11 of 15 Cacique Theatre awards, a record that stands to this day. The play was directed by Raymond Choo Kong and features a stellar cast which includes Penelope Spencer, Cecilia Salazar, Richard Ragoobarsingh, Glenn Davis, Dionne McNicol and Roger Dickie. 

The show will run at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s this Friday and Saturday at 8 pm.

For the original report go to,183496.html

Posted by: lisaparavisini | September 13, 2013

I was booed and almost quit, says Bolt


The world’s fastest man Usain Bolt has revealed that he came close to giving up sprinting in 2006 when he was booed by Jamaican fans for pulling out of a race injured, Jamaica’s Observer reports.

The star, who was only 19 at the time, began his leg of a 4 x 400m race at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica, but soon had to stop after pulling his hamstring.

As he limped off the track, some home fans decided to boo him. Some even shouted that he’d simply given up because he knew he wasn’t going to win.

In an exclusive extract from his new book, Faster than Lightning: My Autobiography, serialised in The Times, Bolt describes how the incident left him questioning his ability as a top-level sprinter and his desire to continue his promising career.

Bolt wrote: “Honestly, I had never imagined a time when a Jamaican crowd — my own people that had cheered me on so loudly when I’d won the World Junior Championships in 2002 — would boo me as I came off the Kingston track.

“Forgot the pulled hamstring, this was pain on another level. I was only 19, and the criticism hit me hard.

“First of all I questioned my ability: I’m not good enough for this sport… I questioned the Jamaican fans: Wow, I got booed in front of my national crowd when I was giving it my best.

“Then it got worse: Three years ago I started this life. Three years I’ve been injured. Is this really working? Should I really continue? All these things that I do, no matter how hard I try, this might not be for me. This track-and-field thing is tough…”

Luckily for the world of athletics, a chat with his coach Glen Mills was enough for Bolt to see sense and continue on his way to becoming the world’s fastest man.

For the original report go to–says-Bolt#ixzz2eeAn5S4H

Posted by: lisaparavisini | September 13, 2013

More than 1300 Newborn Turtles in Dominican Republic


About 1 317 sea turtles were born in Dominican Republic during this year’s second quarter, reported the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, Prensa Latina reports.

The National District and the provinces of Samaná, Puerto Plata and La Altagracia were the places chosen by the Hawksbill, Green, and Leatherback Turtles to breed, added the Minister Bautista Rojas.

He highlighted that the national plan to protect the chelonians contributes significantly to their preservation and to minimize the threats to their extinction.

Rojas remarked that this historical amount of sea turtles registered on the Dominican beaches is an example of the importance of maintaining the surveillance policy and the implantation follow-up.

Posted by: ivetteromero | September 12, 2013

Art Exhibition: Víctor Vázquez’s “Fractures”


Víctor Vázquez’s “Fractures” will be on view September 19 through October 19, 2013, at Juan Ruiz Gallery. The gallery is located at 301 NW 28th Street in Miami, Florida. The opening reception will take place on Thursday, September 19, from 7:00 to 10:00pm.

Description (by art historian Laura Bravo): Víctor Vázquez, interested more in the fragment than in the whole, brings to pieces the ruinous building located on San José Street into the exhibition space, even though that which he found out there was always already a pile of shreds.

Through this process, the artist strives to deprive the building of its poetical hue and foreground its present meaninglessness, its having lost its former meaning because it lost its political splendor long ago. That is why Vázquez pores over the documents that bear witness of the architectural spoils, over the representation of this tremulous bone structure that was once robust, over the portrait of its walls, now a diseased waning skin, over that of the vomited dust coming after the last heartthrobs of the building, and over that of the last pool of petrified blood fixed on the ground when the structured that held it together ceased to exist. Like a forensic anatomist who plays the part of an urban anthropologist, Víctor Vázquez gathers the forgotten remains of a decomposed corpse and relocates them in the context of the museum, thus transforming that chaos into the methodical and scrupulous order a scientist would give them, and puts their naked existence under the scrutiny of social and political analysis. In this sense, there could be no better metaphor of Linda Nochlin’s thesis —proposed 20 years ago in her The Body in Pieces— that fragments, ruins and mutilation echo the mourning for past grandeur as a whole, which can only be revisited through its remains amidst modernity.

The requiem that echoes in Fractures is rooted in Víctor Vázquez’s proposal concerning the death of a building, of its occupants and of the past, but it in turn projects the demise of a socio-cultural model and the crisis of an identity whose definition will take eternity.

For original post, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | September 12, 2013

Curaçao-Born Slugger Poised to Break Sacred Japanese Home Run Record

Wladimir Balentien

Time (David Stout) reports on Curaçao-born Wladimir Balentien who may just be the next homerun hero in Japan.  He writes: “With 21 games left in the season, Yakult Swallows’ Wladimir Balentien is setting himself up a new homerun king.”

After 49 years, Japanese baseball is now prepared to accept the inevitable — that its most sacrosanct record will not last forever. On Wednesday night in Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Curacao-born Wladimir Balentien hit his 55th home run of the year for the Yakult Swallows, tying the single-season record set by Japanese baseball icon Sadaharu Oh. “It’s an honor to be tied with such great players,” Balentien told AP on Wednesday night. “I’m relieved and happy I was able to do it here in front of our home fans.”

Other athletes have been close to breaking the record in the past — American Tuffy Rhodes in 2001 and Venezuelan Alex Cabrera in 2002 all put 55 balls out of the park. But efforts to get the additional home run that would have changed the record books would be thwarted by pitchers instructed to intentionally throw out of the strike zone, or walk those who were within striking distance, out of respect to Oh’s benchmark. “The feeling in Japan at the time was that no one wanted to see Oh’s record broken. They wanted to see that record held by a Japanese-born player,” said ESPN magazine’s baseball analyst Buster Onley.

But times are changing and fans appear eager to see someone set the new benchmark, even if the person is a foreign national. According to a poll conducted in late August by Nikkel, 69% of Japanese fans reported that they were eager to see Balentien smash his 56th ball outside of the park.

With 21 games left in the season, the former major leaguer is likely to not just shatter the record, but also usher Japanese baseball into a new era.

For original article, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | September 12, 2013

Caracol: A Glittering Industrial Park in Haiti Falls Short


Jonathan M. Katz writes about Haiti’s Caracol Park—a cornerstone of post-earthquake ‘reconstruction’—which is “not living up to its backers’ lofty promises.” USAID’s role in Caracol has been greatly criticized. Here are excerpts:

The young men playing dominoes in this tin-roofed fishing village used to have high hopes for the industrial park being built up the road. [. . .] But less than a year after Caracol Industrial Park’s gala opening — with Bill and Hillary Clinton, Sean Penn, designer Donna Karan and Haiti’s current and former presidents among the guests — the feeling these days is disappointment. Hundreds of smallholder farmers were coaxed into giving up more than 600 acres of land for the complex, yet nearly 95 percent of that land remains unused. A much-needed power plant was completed on the site, supplying the town with more electricity than ever, but locals say surges of wastewater have caused floods and spoiled crops.

Most critically, fewer than 1,500 jobs have been created — paying too little, the locals say, and offering no job security. “We thought there was going to be some benefit for us,” says Ludwidge Fountain, 34, laying his domino with a satisfying smack. He worked for two months at the park as a guard, taking home about $3.40 a day, until his contract ran out. “Maybe it’s good for some of the people inside the park. Everyone else got nothing.”

The industrial park near Caracol is the centerpiece of U.S.-led reconstruction of Haiti after its January 2010 earthquake — even though the northern village was undamaged, sitting more than 100 miles northeast of the epicenter. The State Department has promised the park will create 65,000 jobs, powering an economic revitalization of northern Haiti while reducing overcrowding in the quake-stricken capital (though northern Haiti is at least as seismically active as the south). At the opening, then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called it “a new day for Haiti and a new model for how the international community practices development.”

Yet in a larger sense, the project is the result of an economic philosophy promoted by Washington for poor and ravaged countries around the world: that setting up a low-paying textile sector to cheaply stock U.S. stores and closets is a first step on the path out of poverty. In fact, it has been the core U.S. economic plan for Haiti since the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the country’s economy was under the control of the dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. And still today, it’s a plan that — unlike other forms of development aid — the U.S. is generally eager to finance: More than $270 million has been set aside for Caracol by the U.S. Agency for International Development and Inter-American Development Bank.

But despite those high expectations — or maybe because of them — some officials in Washington are as frustrated as the factory’s neighbors. Nearly three years after the project was announced, the park still has just one major tenant: Sae-A Trading Co. Ltd., a Seoul-based textile giant that supplies Wal-mart, Gap, Target and others. (The sole other occupant, a Haitian franchisee of Sherwin-Williams Paints, has only a few dozen employees.) Even with another apparel maker expected in the park soon and Sae-A planning to create another 1,400 jobs by year’s end, the park is nowhere close to producing the 20,000 jobs its backers have promised over the next few years, much less the 65,000 predicted by the State Department.

For complete article, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | September 12, 2013

Cuba Farmers Can Sell Directly To Hotels and Restaurants


Cuba continues to change and develop in different ways; this article credits Raúl Castro with the country’s gradual economic and social changes, which he began in 2010. Now independent farmers in Cuba are able to sell their produce directly to hotels and restaurants, staring on October 21, 2013.

Cuban authorities have authorized independent farmers to sell directly to hotels and tourist-oriented restaurants. Until now, private growers have had to go through a state-run distributor to supply those businesses. State-run agribusinesses and farm co-ops are already allowed to contract directly with hotels and restaurants.

It’s another step in President Raul Castro’s gradual economic and social changes, which began in 2010. Castro has emphasized efficiency through decentralization of the economy, which has long been dominated by the government. However he says the reforms do not amount to a wholesale embrace of capitalism.

The new rules were announced Monday with their publication in the government’s Official Gazette. They take effect Oct. 21.

For original post, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | September 12, 2013

How Caribbean Organized Crime is Replacing the State

llorensN6Z6UCaribbean security specialist Lilian Bobea writes about a bleak situation in which criminal groups are establishing clear-cut alliances with political parties and sectors of the state in Caribbean locations such as the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. By doing so, she writes, they are arguably bringing benefits to certain marginalized communities that the state has long proved incapable of serving properly. See excerpts with a link to the full article below:

[. . .] Organized crime has become embedded in some Latin American and Caribbean societies to the point of becoming a parallel power, with interests that overlap with politicians, bureaucrats, and law enforcement officials. The confluence of all these factors defies any simple, conventional response. That is the perverse reality that many Puerto Ricans and Dominicans are experiencing today. Organized criminal groups have gradually transformed both societies, creating violent, yet resilient political and social orders based on a precarious balance of illicit activities like drug trafficking.

The victory of evil? Yes and no. In both countries, homicide rates have doubled in the last seven years. Yet despite the negative impact of this increased insecurity, these same criminal groups provide opportunities and resources, occasional employment, and protection to those who live in the most-affected neighborhoods. That is something the state has not been able to do, and which elected officials cannot or will not accomplish during their four-year terms in office.

The type of criminality that has penetrated these — and other — Caribbean societies behaves very differently from ordinary street crime. Like plants that are “heliotropic” and always look for sunlight, let’s call this criminal behavior “statetropic.” By that we mean criminal organizations that gear themselves towards the state. Statetropic powerbrokers offer profits to public officials in order to gain their allegiance and protection. Statetropic criminals prefer a scenario in which both high and low-level civil servants benefit from criminal activities. In turn, this puts the state in the untenable position of enforcing the law, while at the same time serving as an instrument exploited by criminal forces.

Statetropism is a useful term for describing conditions in Latin American and Caribbean democracies, but it manifests itself in different ways. Sometimes the state itself becomes an endorser of alternative political and social orders, by explicitly transferring power to non-state actors. This is the case in Jamaica and Haiti, where criminals groups (posses, yardies, and paramilitary forces) have become part of the political system. These criminal organizations have established clear-cut alliances with political party members and sectors of the state, which in turn transfer welfare resources to local powerbrokers, helping the government establish political control in garrisoned areas.

The phenomenon is now occurring in Puerto Rico as well, in public housing blocks called “cacerios.” Two of the biggest ones in San Juan municipality, Nemesio Canales (1,500 units) and Llorens Torres (2,000 units–shown above), have the highest density concentration of gangs. These criminal gangs played a critical role in allowing former ruling party the New Party for Progress (PNP) to win multiple victories in the last three municipal elections.

Here you have two important types of powerbrokers. On one hand, there are political castes, based on family ties, that inherit the available political spots in most of the municipalities. On the other hand, there are gangs that have carved out territory for themselves in these enclosed communities. This power sharing between politicians and politicized gangs in these neighborhoods compensates for the weakness of the state, ensuring a tenuous political stability that cuts across several political cliques. [. . .]

For full article, see

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