Cravo visited Haiti in 2001 and in the following years completed a large body of images that constitute his photographic study In the Gardens of Eden. Familiar with the Afro-Brazilian practice of Candomblé from his years as a resident in Brazil, Cravo has been drawn to the interior of Haiti where he has photographed sites associated with a prelapsarian Eden, the Garden before the Fall, and more recently with its collapse. Here, rituals associated with the spirits of the African Diaspora, the closely related saint cults and ecclesiastical calendar of the Church of Rome link syncretic observances celebrated in Haiti as well as much of Latin America and beyond. Through the Church’s recent recognition of Vodou as an official religion in Haiti, its celebrants now openly address the status of a history spanning nearly 300 years.
As a photographer, I seek to understand people through the images that arise in the course of my journey. I make my eye an instrument that tells a story that is, above all, “human.” The aim is to represent humankind through an iconographic structure based on specific themes.
In this regard, I see Haiti as the supreme expression of the human essence. This is a society with very unique characteristics – intensely spiritual, replete with symbolism, in which people show their lack of prudishness through the purest of elements.
And it is purity in human relations when expressing beliefs that awakens my eye. The philosophical breadth we can descry on the basis of human existence in Haiti is both unsettling and incredible.
Therefore, I believe that “Gardens of Eden” is the title that best reflects the uniqueness of the Haitian people. It is a concept the takes us back to our beginnings, to the moment when human beings were intrinsically linked to nature and discovered themselves through it. Sin did not exist, and naked bodies inhabited each and every space, because they belonged to all of them. Moments of profound pleasure when people meld with nature and its elements. Animism taken to its greatest power, fulfilling desires, seeking fresh hopes for a people with African origins – roots that have a magical relationship with the divine.
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