TALES TO ENTERTAIN THE DEAD
THE STORY OF A SPELL
IN FOUR VOLUMES
One day, off the coast of Kenya, I found a sacred bottle lying in the bush. Inside it was a cobra snake holding a big black scorpio in its teeth with sacred roots & plants at the bottom.
It looked like a a cursed work of art. I made an oath to follow that bottle to heaven or hell.
That’s how it all started really. Fatal magic.
I was on my way to a clandestine bar hidden in a maze of dunes when I found the bottle. Once I entered and put the bottle on a table, the bar instantly emptied itself. Rough men went running out like they’d seen the devil. Surely they’d seen something that wasn’t meant to be seen.
The owner came back in and told me to leave at once with that evil thing. That bottle was death, juju, Black Magic, strong muti.
‘Here, if you want to kill someone, you go to the wizard, he’ll give you a bottle with a snake & a scorpio, special roots & plants and if the snake kills the scorpio the person you want dead, will die in horrible pain.’
I went back to that small village I was staying at where many expats had settled. When they saw me carrying the bottle, their reactions were shock & awe as well. I had found myself a message in a bottle & it was death.
Everybody feared that bottle and everybody told me to get rid of it or else… I was startled by people's reactions towards that bottle and fascinated by its power of representation.
I remember that I went a few days later to the lawless Northern Frontier District in Kenya. Somali and Oromo territory. I had wrapped the bottle around a towel in my bag. I sometimes run into trouble. Then, I would just show that bottle and I was instantly protected… Men were startled, they feared me, thought I was some kind of witch doctor. Also it connected me instantly with them. We had a common belief in a sense.
Whispering mysteries about African myths and tales that are being passed along generations of African tribes attempt to explain a baffling and often hostile universe.
Stories about men and animals and gods. Supernatural events and everyday happenings of love, hate, trickery and magic.
The next day, an old man came to me and said:
‘We are all afraid of what we don’t know we are all afraid of darkness, you should learn about darkness so you won’t be afraid anymore.’
And so I went searching.
Since the witch doctor who had "made" that bottle was supposed to be a very powerful sangoma from South Africa, I concentrated mainly on that region. To enter the world of spirits & ancestors I met with rainmakers, magic penis wizard sangomas, witches, prophets, healers, cops, Muti killers, poets and believers.
Sleeping in caves hidden in the mountains where secret ceremonies take place, going to witches sanctuaries, investigating Muti murders (Muti is Zulu name for medecine. Muti Killing may be loosely defined as a murder where the intention is to gather human body parts from living people for use in traditional African medecine.
The reason for using human body parts is that they are considered to be more powerful than the usual ingredients - such as an equivalent animal part - as they contain the person's life essence.).
I had already been investigating the world of spirits for a few years when something quite unexpected happened. Months before I found that bottle, an asian woman I was in love with, dumped me cold. So I put all my belongings in storage and left with a bag. I was quite depressed and lived for a long time in a state of confusion.
Anyway, years later after coming back from a trip in Africa researching and shooting I decided to take all my things back from storage. And that's when I found the same bottle amongst my belongings...! Only smaller. Of course I was quite shaken at first. I had totally forgotten about it.
Then it all came back to me. She had bought that bottle for me in Vietnam. It is called Snake Wine. In Vietnam, snake wine (Rượu rắn) is widely believed to improve health, virility & sexual performance...:)
That is when I understood that the Bottle I had found in Kenya wasn't Black Magic. I remembered that a Korean cargo ship was docked off the coast for a few days. A sailor must have drunk the bottle and threw it at sea. Then I found it & it took a different meaning.
Believing is seeing...
The unconscious feeds on rituals to access the sacred. The more impressive is the ritual, the more we are tempted to see a sign of divine intervention. You shall see, then, what wasn’t meant to be seen.
Explore the unreality of things to come...A wandering spirit. The first activation of a spell, the dangerous edge of things. Knowledge of the invisible is power to transform the visible. To enter the world of spirits is to enter a terra incognita of knowledge. It's surreal, dark & fueled with the fears & hopes of the universe. One has to open the doors of sensations to penetrate its mysteries.
TALES TO ENTERTAIN THE DEAD presents a world that exists but also doesn’t really.
Magic realism creates inherent surrealism. It's intended as a photographic investigation on the whispering tales of men's obsession with supernatural beliefs.