AN ODE TO ARCADE FIRE– 2017
Glass bottle, multi-sized reflective gemstones, paper, washi tape
Inspired by Arcade Fire, the indie-rock band based in Montreal, Canada. Regine Chassagne, a member of Arcade Fire, has roots in Haiti. Through Arcade Fire’s lyrical and visual art, it is evident that they are galvanized through the Haitian culture. This bottle explores the deep connection between Arcade Fire’s art and the Haitian world of spirituality and voodoo.
The world of voodoo is a mysterious place. Without any background knowledge, it would be rather difficult to understand the many different facets that take place in the afro-creole context. For our final project, we had to create a voodoo bottle. In many cases, bottles serve as a vessel to connect to a lwa (spirit) and/or to be placed on an altar, for decorative purposes. In the afro-creole world of voodoo, many people like to connect to popular culture and media, through these decorative bottles. Sometimes, the references to popular culture are meaningful and other times, it could be added on just because. The wonderful thing about voodoo is that it is dynamic; it is always changing and current. It is not a static practice that stays the same forever. For my bottle, I wanted to make a decorative bottle that doesn’t necessarily connect to a specific lwa, but rather is something personal to me. I also wanted to make my bottle connected to popular culture and have it be a relevant piece of art. As a result of this, I created a voodoo bottle inspired by the band, Arcade Fire. Arcade Fire has a direct relationship to Haiti and that connection reflects deeply in their musical, lyrical, and visual art. For my bottle, I wanted to create a piece of art that represented Arcade Fire’s ties to Haiti.
Written on the white pieces of paper glued onto the bottle are song lyrics from two Arcade Fire songs that resonate with Haitian culture and voodoo beliefs. On my bottle, I have two lyrics from the song Reflektor. I included the lyrics, “Entre la nuit et l’aurore. Entre le royaume des vivants et des morts (Between the night, night and dawn. Between the kingdoms of the living and the dead)” and “But I see you on the other side, we all got things to hide. It’s just a reflector.” These two lyrics that Arcade Fire wrote are evidently connected to Haitian voodoo. Firstly, in voodoo the belief of coexisting between two worlds is practical. They believe that two worlds can intertwine at crossroads. The idea of crossroads are highly significant in an afro-creole context, as well. On my bottle, I represented intersecting crossroads, made out of black and white washi tape. Crosses are also commonly used to represent a point of intersection. In many cases, this means the intersection of two worlds. My bottle features numerous crosses, inspired by this common belief. In Haitian voodoo, there is an everlasting link between the living and the dead. Even if a loved one passes, they aren’t necessarily gone. Through altars, possessions, reflections, spirits and rituals, it is possible to keep in contact with the dead. Secondly, in Haitian voodoo, another way to reach the other world is through reflections. Mirrors are commonly used in voodoo practices, because they serve as a channel to a spiritual dimension. As seen in the photos provided, I also used reflective gemstones throughout the bottle. While also used for decorative purposes, I put the gemstones on the bottle with the intention of creating a source to enter the spiritual world.
The second set of lyrics on the bottle are from the song Haiti. The lyrics are, “Rien n’arrete nos esprits (nothing stops our spirits)” and “Unmarked graves where flowers grow.” I chose to include nothing stops our spirits, because it is a true statement in an afro-creole context. The spirits serve many different purposes. There is always a spirit to channel for whatever problem is going on. Haiti is a small underdeveloped country in the caribbean that has experienced many hardships. Although, no matter what state Haiti might be in, the spirits will always be there to help get them through. This leads to the second lyric, unmarked graves where flowers grow. Haiti has experienced a great deal of deaths, especially after the 2010 earthquake. There were so many dead bodies, that they had to bury multiple bodies in one plot. Due to minimal space and the inability to identify bodies, the land was covered in unmarked graves. Now, flowers grow on top of these graves with unidentified bodies underneath.
Lastly, the big sculpture on my bottle is taken from the album cover of Arcade Fire’s Reflektor. This sculpture is inspired by Orphée et Eurydice. Arcade fire wanted to represent crossroads on their album cover by intersecting traditional art with raw and vibrant textures and colors, which displays Arcade Fire’s charisma and the world of Haitian voodoo, as well.