Spanish photographer documents life and legends in Haiti

One of the photos in the exhibi

The spiritual as well as everyday life of the Haitian people will travel from the lens of Spanish photojournalist Luis Alcalá del Olmo to Museo Nacional through an exhibition which opens today.

“Haití: los espíritus de la tierra,” consists of 80 of the photographer’s pictures. They provide close shots of faces, gestures, expressions and landscapes to tell the many stories of the Haitian people.

In the collection, 44 large format pictures illustrate six different Voodoo rituals practiced by Haitians.

One of these voodoo Laos or spirits is Baron Samedi. Usually shown wearing dark glasses, a top hat and tuxedo, he is a Voodoo spirit of the dead and is called upon to heal those in chronic stages. Another is Erzulie Freda, a goddess of love and wealth. She is thought to bring good fortune to those which serve her.

The other 36 photos show the effect of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake. This 7.0 magnitude disaster killed more than 300,000 people and rendered around 1,000,000 others homeless. Many of these people still live in relief tents put up two years ago.

Alcalá was born in Madrid, Spain, and began his professional career as a freelance photographer for various international news agencies in South America and the Caribbean, said museum spokespersons.

Throughout his 20-year career as a photojournalist, he documented numerous political and cultural events. He has received numerous awards for human interest and visual anthropology from National Geographic, the U.N. Children’s Fund and the Overseas Press Club, they added.

The photo exhibit will be available until Jan. 6. The cost is 1,500 colons, but students and children under 12 years get in free. Sunday admission is free to the public

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