MSU prof recaptures iconic African images

Mar 26, 2014

The exhibit Revisiting Verger’s Dahomey: A Photographic Contrast is currently on display at the Michigan State University Museum. The show presents a comparison of the images of Pierre Verger, the French photojournalist who immersed himself in the lives, customs, and beliefs of the people of Dahomey, now Benin, West Africa.

Pierre Verger left France at the age of 30. With the freedom to pursue his passions for travel, discovery and photography, he spent the next twenty years on a multi-continent adventure, taking photographs and selling them to major newspapers and magazines worldwide.

Over time, through interactions with people of the African Diaspora in South America and the Caribbean, Verger became deeply interested in West Africa. He was especially drawn to Benin and went there in an attempt to understand the origins of the Voodoo cults which had been exported to Brazil through the slave trade.

Some of the photos he took in the 1950s are displayed side-by-side with images made in many of the same locations by Darcy Greene, an Associate Professor and Assistant Director in the MSU School of Journalism.

Current State’s Peter Whorf met with Greene at the MSU Museum to look at the photos. Greene says Verger loved the rawness of the Voodoo religions.