Among the many fascinating projects taking place at the 2nd Ghetto Biennale 2011 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti [see previous post Haiti’s 2011 Ghetto Biennale and Atis-Rezistans], this project caught my eye: “The Three Erzulies / Ezilis yo Twa.” As attribute to female community ancestors, “The Three Erzulies / Ezilis yo Twa” is a collaboration between a Canadian and two Haitian women artists (from Ti Moun Rezistans) to honor three neighborhood heroines of Grand Rue. Karen Miranda Augustine describes:
Real heroes are usually special, but regular, everyday people of remarkable character. They don’t win awards, are not usually considered newsworthy and are rarely given thanks on a regular basis. Yet, they often live their lives in service, impacting many in their communities with their talents, generosity and support, often sacrificing themselves for others with little fanfare or recognition. And when they have transitioned from this life, what we are left with are wonderfully warm memories and gratefulness for having experienced them in our lives.
Three Erzulies / Ezilis yo Twa are three biographical, mixed-media, votive-inspired portraits of local unsung heroines from (or who have held deep significance to) the neighbourhood of Grand Rue. As seen through the Vodou lense of the Ezili lwa, this work is loosely-based on the Greek/Roman myth of The Three Furies — but with a contemporary Haitian twist. Created by three women artists (two Haitian, one Canadian), the works will serve to memorialize, celebrate and attract the blessings of three female community ancestors, while conceptually acknowledging the Divine aspects of the Erzulie lwa.
This work will be a contemporary, Haitian twist to the Greek/Roman myth The Three Furies: Tisophone (avenger of murder), Megaera (the jealous) and Alecto (relentless anger)—all defenders of moral and legal order. Like the Furies, Erzulie’s attributes are jealously, vengeance and discord, with her true powers used to defend women (particularly women and children who are victims of domestic abuse), as well as newly consecrated Vodou priests and priestesses. Visually, she is portrayed as a Black Madonna, bearing two scars on her cheek, often a knife in her hand to ward off enemies.
In an African context, the Petwo lwa Erzulie Dantor (Ezili D’en Tort) is especially significant in her direct connection to the Yoruba’s Òsun deity and, like Brazil’s Pomba Gira, she embodies the female energy of Legba and so straddles the parallel realms of the living and the world of the Spirits.
Shown here, the 2007 “Miranda and Child (RaRa Rah)”