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Photos by Pierre Verger and Mario Cravo Neto


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Foreword. Pierre Verger - Black Gods in Exile
Catalog / Publication to the exhibition

Gilberto Gil

His Excellency, The State Minister for Culture of the Federal Republic of Brazil

Pierre Verger was not only a wonderful person and gifted photographer, he was also a constant wanderer between worlds. With his more than 60,000 photographs, his travelogues from five continents, and his academic studies on Afro-Brazilian religion, all of which he left behind for us, he forged a path of mutual understanding between Europe, Africa, and our Americas.

For a half century Pierre Verger lived and worked in my native city, Salvador da Bahia. His ties with the art bohemia there were as warm as those with dignitaries of the Bahian Candomblés *). He seemed to have a greater respect for the wisdom of the African priests, who he visited regularly on his field trips, than for the over-precise Parisian intellectuals, who sometimes paid him a visit in Salvador. In the Afro-Brazilian religion and world of experiences, he not only discovered traditions and customs thought to be buried over; he also made it possible for us to see the boost of modernization that Afro-Brazilians achieved in their former homeland. In doing so, he gave new life to a transatlantic dialog that fell silent ages ago.

Verger’s work uniquely documents how the cultural heritage of Africa and Europe, in religious practices, music, dance and theatrical forms of expression, has consistently renewed itself and so helped in mastering the social reality involved. His photographs emphasize just how important the aesthetic component was and is for the self-confidence of their protagonists. Considering the extent to which black slaves of the past and their ancestors were forced to reconstruct and "reinvent" Africa on the other side of the Atlantic, they substantially designed the new societies of Brazil, the Caribbean and North America at the same time.

In this year, with the UNESCO commemorating the suppression of slavery 200 years ago, in the first, now independent Republic of Haiti, these wonderful photographs by my friend, Pierre Verger, also represent a message of reconciliation between the so-called Old and New World.

For making this marvelous German-Brazilian project possible, I would like to warmly thank the State Minister for Cultural and Media Affairs, Dr. Christina Weiss, and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Brasilia, as well as our friends from the Goethe Institut, The Pierre Verger Foundation, and the publishing house Das Wunderhorn.

Brasilia, July 19, 2004

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