Mystery and Magic of Afro-Cuban Spirituality:
Anthony Caronia, photographer

On view May 4-June 17

OAS F Street Gallery
1889 F Street, NW, Washington DC 20006

By appointment only, Mon-Fri from 9am to 5pm 
Please call 202-370-0151

Opening reception Wednesday, May 4 from 6-8pm
Featuring Orishabo  - AfroCuban-Yoruba drumming group

Afro-Cuba: Mystery and Magic of Afro-Cuban Spirituality is a project by Renato Miracco - curator, critic and Cultural Attaché of the Italian Embassy in Washington DC - into Afro-Cuban religion. Afro-Cuba is based on a four-year long research and documentary project by Italian anthropologist and photographer Anthony Caronia.

To Caronia, "this is a photographic representation of faith and courage, since the religious rituals in Cuba are deeply intertwined with everyday life at home. I want to give viewers the feeling of intruding into a world which they would otherwise not have access to.” The photographs glimpse into altars, sacrifices, obsession, dances, initiation, and the cleansing ritual. Viewers are encouraged to consider fundamental issues such as the adaptation of roots, self-identity, and the attraction of a religion that does not necessarily distinguish between the sacred and the secular. This photo project carefully documents this complex religion, in which African spirits manifest their presence in everyday Cuban life.

There are some 200 million people of African descent in the Americas and they are among the most vulnerable groups in the hemisphere, stemming from slave trade, slavery, colonialism, racism, racial discrimination, and intolerance. The OAS and the Summits of the Americas Process have repeatedly expressed concern regarding inclusion, respect for human rights, and increased attention to the needs of this group. The OAS has recognized the International Decade for People of African Descent proclaimed by the United Nations and in November of 2015 approved the establishment of the Working Group to prepare the Plan of Action for the Decade for People of African Descent in the Americas.

This plan promotes awareness about the rights of and discrimination against people of African descent. It includes campaigns to diminish discrimination against those practicing African-based religions. The plan also provides a framework for the OAS to implement policies, projects, and cooperation schemes to recognize and promote the rights of these groups.

The exhibition is hosted by the Art Museum of the Americas of the OAS Secretariat of Hemispheric Affairs, in collaboration with the Secretariat for Access to Rights and Equity of the Organization of American States, and is held under the patronage of the Permanent Observer Mission of Italy to the OAS.