video still from

The Possessed

The Possessed

video still


The Possessed, 2022
Single-channel video, sound, 16:15min

In The Possessed, Patricia Werneck Ribas alludes to the resilience of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomble in the face of colonial and modernist imposition. 

The artist juxtaposes fragments of influential texts from European thinkers over footage of practitioners of Candomble carrying out rituals on a deserted Brazilian beach. But they are not invoking demons that horror films and Christianity would have us believe. Candomble arose through a process of syncretism between traditional religions of West Africa, particularly that of the Yoruba, and the prevalent Roman Catholicism in Brazil when it was still a colony of Portugal. 

Brought to Brazil by the Portuguese during the sixteenth through to the nineteenth century, enslaved Africans were taken to plantations where few could speak the same language.  It was in the plantation owners’ own interest to discourage communication – all for the sake of avoiding rebellion. Despite this language barrier, they could still recognize common elements in each other’s belief systems. Thus they attempted to create a sense of community for themselves, separated from their families and displaced unwillingly from one continent to another.

Although Candomblé has always been marginalized by the Roman Catholic church, it has grown in popularity and remains a site of resistance against white Christian European domination.


On view until May 28, 2022, at CBK Zuidoost, as part of the Exhibition “A World of Many Worlds” with fellow Latin American artists: Alvaro Aroca Cordova (Chili/Spanje), Maga Berr (Peru/NL), Teresa Borasino (Peru/NL), Aldo Esparza Ramos (Mexico/NL), Antonio Jose Guzman (Panama/NL), Raquel van Haver (NL/Colombia), Samuel Sarmiento (Venezuela /Aruba).

This project was made possible with the generous support of the Mondriaan Fund.