Axel Pilyser Photography


The door of no return

The Door of No Return in Ouidah, Benin, located at the place of embarkation of the slave trade, symbolizes the definitive departure of slaves from African soil. The voodoo religion was an attempt to keep the memory of the origins alive when passing through the door. In Cuba, under the name of Santeria, it survived colonization and then Castro by continuing its discrete but omnipresent practice in society. The Cuban followers, very eager to know the reality of voodoo today in Africa, gave me the idea of a report to the sources of voodoo, in Togo and Benin. I went there in 2020, during the national voodoo festival of January 10, supervised and initiated by the local clergy.

This port-folio is the translation in images of these trips on both sides of the door, where I tried to trace the thread of lost roots. The photos of the nature remained raw, those around the voodoo were processed by mixing images, the technique I use to express my feelings. From the sacred forest of Togo to the wooded park of Havana, the voodoo rites are performed with equal fervor and have become inseparable from the memory of slavery.