The art group, Housing Spirits made up of two artists, Michelle
Eistrup and Marika Seidler. This collaboration started in 1998
in Benin, West Africa with the research and study of practices
in the Vodoun religion. Due to our past, and our cultural background,
we wanted to understand the connection between the Caribbean
religions and West African practices, moreover we wanted to develop
a better understanding of the cosmology in this religion and
how this affects the philosophy toward life in general.
The project developed rapidly and four months were spent researching
and filming Yoruba and Vodoun ceremonies in Ouidah, Benin. A
documentary approach was used in order to gather knowledge and
material for inspiration to create films, which were woven out
of our personal experiences, and the Vodoun cosmology.
The outcome proved to be successful, as we worked in partnership
with Lambert Abadagan, an artist and Vodoun practioner, and researcher
in Ouidah. It is through his eyes that we were guided and educated
in the Vodoun religion. In the end, three videos were produced
Appetizer, Cocoon, 8 short stories and Mami Wata.
Appetizer, 5 mins. 1998
'Appetizer leads us
into two distinct universes a visual tracking movement
through a labyrinth of dusty streets, accompagnied by Michelle
Eistrup's voice. The visual part was recorded in Ouidah in Benin,
while the film's monologue is Michelle's reconstruction of her
encounter with the Voodoo priest Dah Boya.' Arine Kirstine.
Cocoon 8 short Stories, 15 mins, 1999
A stewardess recounts her feelings of loss of time and space.
Abstract road images
from Denmark and Benin describes this visual experience.
Mami Wata, 7 mins. 2000
'Marika Seidler and
Carrol P. Dalbert tell their personal account of walking along
a riverbank seeing a boy's glowing body being eaten by a duck.
The narrator is both spectator and present at the time of this
event. The duck is transformed into a crocodile, and the storyteller
notices she/he has reptile skin.' Arine Kirstine.
Our Method of Work
In all our video projects, we emphasize storytelling and
the narrative element in a
visual context. Our text and images are based on assimilating
dreams, interviews, documentary, and fictional accounts.
Our objective is to create a forum where a wider range of views
on personal experience can be incorporated to mold the development,
and structure of making
video films and performances.
Collaborations with people
outside the art world have proven to be an essential path for
this process of development and growth. This practice has strongly
influenced and continues to play a great role in our discourse
with one another. Our collaboration continues to be a fruitful
test in crossing borders of different areas of interest and expertise,
and as a result a team of artists, video makers, and researchers
came together in the summer of 2000.
This group consisted of both
Beninoise and Danish colleagues, Lambert Abadagan, (B) a Vodoun
researcher and practioner, Martine de Souza, (B), a historian,
Yahoué Cossi, (B), a traditional healer, Arine Kirstein
(DK), a Ph.D. student in postcolonial filmmaking, Torben Johansen
(DK) videographer, Michelle Eistrup, (DK), a fine artist and
Marika Seidler, (DK), a fine artist. The focus of the group was
primarily to investigate the relationship that exists between
the living and the dead in Benin. As a result four videos were
produced based on the information, and knowledge gathered by
the group's research.
Soleil de Minuit, (Midnight
sun),15mins. Lang. French, Fongbé and English.
This film focuses on
the relationship between the living and the dead in Benin, West
Africa. A young man, Eddie is in the habit of wandering around
sleepless at night, entertaining politicians and chasing women
at bars and clubs. One night, he meets a woman who changes his
perception of dating forever.
Interviews on burial ceremonies
in Ouidah, Benin, 27 mins. Lang. French and English. Subtilted.
Is a brief introduction
to the Benin, and the religion of Vodun, practised by ninety
percent of the population. A research group conducts several
interviews with religious leaders on burial rituals for the Fon,
and their daily working relationship with their ancestors. These
interviews give an insight into the cosmology, which exists in
Auditions in Cotonou, Benin,
21mins. Lang. French. Subtitled. 2002, image
Actors and actresses tell their
stories of friends and family who have encountered dead people.
The Funeral of Madame Kapatenon, 32 mins. Lang.Fongbé.
We follow the burial of Madame Kapatenon and the journey
she takes and the many rituals involved in her burial ceremony.