New York Photo Review
Volume 3 Issue 4 February 8 to 14, 2012

Garden of Eden in Haiti
Christian Cravo
In the Garden of Eden
Ed Barnas
Christian Cravo, Woman and Light, Haiti, 2008

The Gardens of Eden in Christian Cravo’s show at Throckmorton Fine Art are sites of ritual and pilgrimage for practitioners of Voudou in Haiti: the waterfall at Sodo (Saut d’Eau), site of an 1849 Marian apparition, the Grotto of Saint Francis de Assisi near Saint Michel de Atalaye, the mud pit at Plain de Nord, and the seashore at Bord de Mer de Limonade. Water (or its lack) has been an element of Christian’s photography for some time in his native Brazil and in India, and Haiti. (His first book, “Irredentos,” consisted of work in the backcountry of northeast Brazil).

In this set of thirty-five black and white photographs taken over a period of years (2002-2010), we see many images of the faithful, black bodies clothed and unclothed, singly or in groups, bathing in the waters of the sea or under the cascade of the waterfall. I felt a sense of mutual respect and acceptance between the photographer and the people in these images. The images well executed 16 x 20 silver gelatin prints with a nice tonal range from deep black to detailed whites.

 by unidentified photographer.
Christian Cravo, “Saint Michel de Atalaye, Haiti, 2007”

Most of the individuals in these images remain absorbed in what they are doing, ignoring the camera. The perspective is usually medium to close, as if the photographer were in the water with them. Some stare out directly at the viewer/photographer. In one instance, we see a man’s face in profile reflected head-on in a broken mirror.

The images that struck me most were those from the grotto: a goat tethered by a candle, petitions on a wall, a woman caught in a shaft of light, hands reaching up in the grotto, another from within looking out at others entering the cave. Most of these shot a bit farther out than the other images in the gallery.

Dark, yet filled with a certain light. Respectful, not voyeuristic.

For those who do not get a chance to catch the exhibition, a book with these and other images from this series of Christian’s work is available from Throckmorton.

Christian Cravo
In the Garden of Eden


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Thursday, November 11 to
Saturday, January 8, 2011
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