Lunch and Learn: Dancing with Death
Patrick A. Polk, Curator of Latin American and Caribbean Popular Arts, discusses a remarkable Haitian Vodou ritual banner (drapo) dedicated to Papa Guede, patriarch of a family of Vodou divinities associated with death and resurrection. Exuberantly clicking his heels beside a funereal skull and crossbones, Guede epitomizes the temporality of the flesh and the eternality of the spirit.
Patrick A. Polk is Curator of Latin American and Caribbean Popular Arts at the Fowler Museum at UCLA and also serves as a lecturer for the UCLA Center for the Study of Religion. His research interests focus on Latin American and Caribbean ritual and aesthetic systems, global popular culture, and urban visual traditions. Exhibitions he has curated include “Botánica Los Angeles: Latino Popular Religious Art in the City of Angels” (2004), “In Extremis: Death and Life in 21st Century Haitian Art” (2012), “Axé Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis” (2017-2018), and “Guatemalan Masks: The Jim and Jeanne Pieper Collection” (2019). His writings on drapo Vodou include the monography Haitian Vodou Flags (1997) and the essays “Sacred Banners and the Divine Cavalry Charge” in “Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou” (1995) and “Remember You Must Die!: Gede Banners, Memento Mori, and the Fine Art of Facing Death” in “In Extremis” (2012).