Dubréus Lhérisson lives and works in Port-au-Prince, HAT
In the Vodou tradition, the bones and skulls of sacred animals or ancestors are preserved and used either for protection or as a sign of the continued presence of the dead among the living. The boundaries between life and death, the sacred and the profane, are fluid. Humans and spirits navigate between one world and the other, with cemeteries merely serving as entrances or exits.
Vodou flags—sacred objects used during religious ceremonies—have long been available and sold to laypeople. During his youth, Dubréus Lhérisson learned to make these sequined flags in the temple of the Vodou priest Tibout. Following his mentor’s death, Dubréus took over the workshop and began to make the sequined costumes associated with rara street processions. Together with David Boyer, he then experimented with other forms, including the Bizango statues named after a secret society in Haiti. Dubréus gradually diversified his material, using padded fabric, bone, wood, metal, and mirrors to create unique sequined objects.
On January 12, 2010, an earthquake in Haiti killed over 300,000 people: human remains littered the streets of Port-au-Prince, with death haunting every corner. That year, Dubréus opened his own studio in Léogâne, where he continued to explore the art of recycling, integrating children’s dolls, shells, mirrors, and skulls into his work. These skulls have deserted the sacred sanctuary of cemeteries and temples for the artist’s atelier, where they are adorned with sequin and glitter and given a second life. Today, Dubréus is regarded as the artist of the glittery skulls, while the prevailing chaos that reigns in the Port-au-Prince cemetery suggests that there is no rest for the dead in Haiti.
Sacred Diagrams: Haitian Vodou Flags from the Gessen Collection, 2019, Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa (US)
PÒTOPRENS: The Urban Artists of Port-au-Prince, 2018, Pioneer Works, New York City (US)
Art et vaudou, 2017, Les Ateliers Jérôme, Pétion-Ville (HT)
Haïtopia, Haïti and the Politics of Revolution and Representation, 2016, Caribbean Studies Association, Maison Dufort, Port-au-Prince (HT)