|Photo © Jason Florio-All Rights Reserved|
I had a hard time choosing a photo essay out of Jason Florio's interesting and compelling work, but thought that his Benin: The Vodun Trail would suit this blog the best due to my own interest in featuring and documenting religious rituals.
The other photo essays that competed for my attention are The Ring (a photo essay on Muay Thai boxing in Chiang Mai) and Blackout Portraits-Mogadishu.
Benin is considered the cradle of vodun (one of its adaptations is voodoo) which is one of the ancient belief system essentially based on animism. Despite concerted efforts of Christian missionaries, this ancient belief system still has millions of adherents along West Africa’s former Slave Coast, from Ghana to parts of Nigeria, and especially in Benin. In 1996, Benin’s democratic government officially decreed vodun a religion, and ever since, thousands have openly practiced it. A significant percentage of Benin practice pure vodun. For more information, an article from the New York Times (with Jason's photographs) can be viewed here.
Jason Florio is a New York City based photographer and writer from London. He worked as a freelance photojournalist around the globe for publications including The New Yorker, New York Times, Outside, Liberation and The Times of London, working on stories that attempt to reveal the unseen and to provide an alternative point of view on people and places.
He spent the last 3 months of 2009 making a 930 km expedition by foot of The Gambia, West Africa to produce a series of portraits of African chiefs for which in part he was given fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society in London. His work on Afghanistan is in the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York, as well as a number of private collections.