WHAT IS BEHIND THE POWER OF A MASK?
I came to the point where I said, "I've got to understand why this is happening to me. I have to pray." On night I turned off all the lights. I kicked off the TV. I pulled the plug on the refrigerator. I unticked the clock.... - Victor Harris, the Spirit of Fi Yi Yi
"A lushly illustrated oral history of Black Indians of New Orleans. You're sure to be swept away by their total performance art: the brilliant masking traditions of a Black Creole culture, which endures because it changes all the time." -Donald Cosentino, author and curator of Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou and In Extremis: Death and Life in Twenty-First Century Haitian Art.
"Fi Yi Yi is a sumptuous and colouful festival. It is indeed an archetype of the African philosophy of participation of long dead ancestors in the daily affairs of the living. It is also the physical manifestations of these ancestors in the form of masquearades. During Carnival in New Orleans, the Spirit of Fi Yi Yi and the Mandingo Warriors pacify existing grievances between the living and the dead and foster healthy communion among the living." -Akande Abiodun, Senior Lecturer, Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos, Nigeria
"This is not your typical ethnography. Rather it evokes the emotional, multi-sensorial engagements of powerful persons and personalities, tensions and intentions, deeply felt. Th emany authors and contributors of Fire in the Hole have conveyed the spirit of creative culture-making. This is history as lived, and we are privleged to hear from those who made it."-Henry John Drewal, Jvjue-Bascom Professor, Departments of Art History and Afro-American Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Fire in the Hole: The Spirit Work of Fi Yi Yi and the Mandingo Warriors is a collaborative ethnography with one of the most important Mardi Gras Indian tribes in New Orleans and the Backstreet Cultural Museum. Celebrating the intricate beading and parading arts with strong connections to West Africa, the book is based on archival material from the museum and more than 15 years of photography by visual anthropologist Jeffrey David Ehrenreich.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In community-based publishing, we strive to make sure that we are crediting all of the photographs we use from archives properly. We regret that the photograph appearing on page 14 of our book, Fire in the Hole: The Spirit Work of Fi Yi Yi and the Mandingo Warriors, by the Committee Members of Fi Yi Yi was reproduced backwards. The image should be credited to Girard Mouton,III. Copyright 1984. Girard Mouton,III, All Rights Reserved. The Neighborhood Story Project regrets the error and the omission.
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