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Published on Oct 6, 2013
By Sandro Masai and Inge Tranter with assistance from volunteers at the BunkerLove festival in 2013.
Yemanja ceremony performed by Semente do Samba
'A Cottage for Yemanja' was created for the BunkerLove festival in Hirtshals in 2013.
Yemanja is an orisha (a spirit or deity) who reflects one of the manifestations of God in the Yoruba religion and has become prominent in many Afro-American religions. Africans from what is now called Yorubaland (which spans the modern states of Nigeria, Benin and Togo) brought Yemanja with them when they were brought to the shores of the Americas as captive slaves. She is the patron saint of the fisherman and the survivors of shipwrecks, the spirit of moonlight and the ocean, the essence of motherhood, and a protector of children.
Because the Catholic church prohibited the worship of traditional African deities, a syncretism of Yemanja and the Catholic Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes (Our Lady of Seafaring) developed and now the two figures are often celebrated on the same day every year. In Bahia in Brazil every February 2, thousands of people line up at dawn to leave their offerings at her shrine in Rio Vermelho. Gifts for Yemanja usually include flowers, perfume, jewellery, combs, lipsticks, mirrors. These are gathered in large baskets and taken out to the sea by local fishermen. This is followed by a street party. More info on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yemaja
We saw a link between the state of occupation and slavery and its accompanying restrictions on freedom and freedom of expression as well as the religious repression suffered by the slaves embarking on foreign soils and were interested in the inclusiveness of syncretism and its ability to find common cultural and religious ground whilst still providing room for individuality. We also had a focus on the permanent nature of impermanence, the fragility of power. The bunkers, with their brutal architecture, represent an attempt by mankind to control both other human beings as well as nature -- just as the slave trade attempted to obliterate the individuality and freedom of many different cultures. We used the installation in the bunker and the accompanying ceremony to celebrate the ability of the human spirit to overcome apparently overwhelming odds and the ability of nature and time to heal over old wounds. The planting of flowers and grasses inside the bunker returned the bunker to nature again, temporarily, just as nature is slowly reclaiming the structures as they fall into the sea.
Sandro Masai is a Brazilian artist resident in Aalborg. Inge Tranter is a South African/Danish artist resident in Tversted.
This project was funded by Region Nordjylland's Kulturpunkt and created in collaboration with Vendsyssel Historiske Museum and Hirtshals Fyr.