In this space Makandal acknowledges the individuals and institutions whose Collections laid the groundwork for the Frisner Augustin Memorial Archive. Please meet them below, in alphabetical order by last name.
The Archive is a work-in-progress. At least four more Collections wait in the wings, and with a system now in place, we might accommodate more . If you or someone you know has documents for a potential Collection, we can help to organize and upload them for public viewing and listening. We are interested in all time periods, but particularly in the 1970s (Mr. Augustin’s first decade in New York), the 1990s, and (with luck) his childhood and youth in Haiti. Makandal will acknowledge all contributors. To begin the process, please contact us here.
Steve Deats (Music Co-director, La Troupe Makandal) began his study of Haitian drumming and folk singing in 1984. From his classes with Master Drummer Frisner Augustin, he joined La Troupe Makandal’s ensemble, and spent time in Port-au-Prince deepening his knowledge of Haiti’s roots music. His engagements with Makandal included such venues as the Town Hall, Lincoln Center Out-of Doors, the Banlieus Bleues festival in Paris, the Tokyo Summer Festival, and many more. Today, he holds a degree in music education for children from Empire State College; he instructs children in rhythm, movement, and song and has directed his own children’s troupe. Mr. Deats drums for the spirits in New York’s Vodou houses, where he has won the respect and recognition of the community for his devotion to the culture.
The Deats Collection contains sound recordings of Vodou dances, Makandal performances, and private classes with Mr. Augustin. Mr. Deats also shared several prints of photos by Chantal Regnault, which he received from her as gifts. One is the photo above, with Mr. Deats at the left.
Phillip Nerestan is an artist and a stage hand (lighting and sound) with the International Alliance of Theatrical Employees (IATSE) Local One and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, he lived in Jersey City and Brooklyn before settling in his current home in Beacon, New York. Mr. Nerestan’s art concerns the spirit and speaks to his ancestral roots in Haitian Vodou. In 2011 the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCADI) in New York City exhibited his work in its Standing with Papa Legba exhibit, one of a two-part multimedia project (Re-Imaging Haiti) with the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts (MoCADA). The Foundry Art Centre included more of his work in its Concerning the Spiritual exhibit in the winter of 2016-17. Mr. Nerestan studied Haitian Vodou drumming with Frisner Augustin for several years and has served on the Board of Directors of La Troupe Makandal. Joe Radoccia sketched the portrait above and to the right.
The Nerestan Collection offers three recordings made over the course of two private classes with Frisner Augustin in the latter’s home in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, in 2011. Both classes focused on Carnival drumming styles.
Tom Pich (tompich.com), a native New Yorker and professional photographer for over thirty years, has specialized in the corporate sector of Wall Street. In the late eighties he covered assignments for the National Football League, Major League Baseball, and United States Olympics for a variety of publications. Over the past twenty-five years, in addition to his commercial work, he has photographed National Heritage Fellows and Jazz Masters for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and assignments for the Smithsonian Institution. His portraiture of National Heritage Fellows appears on the NEA website and has been exhibited at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the Russell Office Building of the United States Senate.
The Pich Collection derives from a series of more than seven hundred photos capturing four performances of Makandal’s annual three-part series Rising Sun. Using an overarching theme of death and resurrection, Rising Sun represented events in the Vodou calendar from the days of the dead in November through the dawn of the Carnival season. The performances Mr. Pich photographed took place in the Great Room of South Oxford Space in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
Chantal Regnault was born in France, has lived in the United States since 1971, and has visited Haiti frequently since 1979. She was a doctoral candidate in French Literature at New York University before studying photography at the International Center for Photography and the School of Visual Arts in New York. Ms. Regnault supports herself as a photographer/photojournalist and is associated with Getty Images. The New York Times, Village Voice, Libération, Vanity Fair, Aperture, Geo, and Photo, among others, have published her work, and she served as researcher, writer, translator, and photographer for the 2003 book Artisans of Haiti. She has exhibited in the United States, Europe, and Haiti and is represented in the following collections: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Los Angeles; The William Benton Museum of Arts, University of Connecticut; Museum für Kunst Geschichte, Fribourg; La Maison Européenne de la Photo, Paris. Ms. Regnault collaborated with Haitian filmmaker Rachèle Magloire to direct the award-winning documentary Deported (2012).
The Regnault Collection offers photos of classes and workshops, performances, private life, public life, rehearsals, and Haitian Vodou events. Ms. Regnault created the collection from 1983 to 1999. The photo above with Mr. Augustin was taken in 1999 by a friend, using Ms. Regnault’s camera.
Tokyo Summer Festival, organized by the Arion-Edo Foundation in collaboration with Asahi Shimbun (Morning Sun Newspaper, one of Japan’s national dailies), was established in 1985 by pianist Kyoko Edo, composer Maki Ishii, and musicologist Tashi Funayama as Tokyo’s first international music festival. It distinguished itself, too, as the first festival directed entirely by musicians. Each year featured a theme, for example, “Patterns of Laughter: Masques, Music, and Buffoonery” (1995) and “Music and Literature” (2002). Makandal performed Vodou theatre in the Festival’s 2007 edition, “Towards the Islands, Sounds across the Sea.” The Festival’s Wikipedia entry records no festivals after 2008, and its website is no longer published. In a letter dated 8 August 2007 the Festival granted Makandal permission to use the photos on condition that it credit the photographers and the Festival.
The Tokyo Collection of the Archive includes fifty-nine photos: thirty out of 413 taken by Shinji Takehara at the Sogetsu Hall performance, 14 July 2007; thirteen out of 242 taken by Koïchiro Sato at the Asahi Beer Headquarters performance, 18 July 2007; and fourteen photos taken by Shinji Takehara of Mr. Augustin during an interview for the Festival, 14 July 2007. The photo above shows the Festival’s Hiromi Ishikawa presenting Frisner Augustin as he blows a kiss to the public, Asahi Beer Headquarters, 18 July 2007.
Lois Wilcken (Ph.D., Columbia University), a native New Yorker, has had the pleasure of researching the traditional music and dance of Haiti in Port-au-Prince and New York City’s Haitian neighborhoods. She shares her experiences with academic and general audiences. In addition to developing programs with La Troupe Makandal, Dr. Wilcken has served students from kindergarten through university with educational programs. White Cliffs Media Company published her book, The Drums of Vodou, in 1992. In 1998, University of Illinois Press published Island Sounds in the Global City, which she co-edited with Dr. Ray Allen. One may visit Dr. Wilcken’s Vodou Music in Haitiexhibit at lameca.org. She is currently annotating a collection from her own field recordings for publication on the web-based Ethnographic Video for Instruction and Analysis Digital Archive (EVIADA) based at Indiana University, and with Makandal, she is curating an online archive centered on the life and legacy of the company’s late Artistic Director, Master Drummer Frisner Augustin.
The Wilcken Collection, dating from 1965 to the time of Mr. Augustin’s passing in 2012, includes sound recordings, still and moving images, and text documents from the combined holdings of Dr. Wilcken, Frisner Augustin, and La Troupe Makandal. Items were contributed to those holdings by various creators, like the one above by Chantal Regnault showing Dr. Wilcken with Mr. Augustin in 1985.
Featured Image: Photo by Lois Wilcken of Frisner Augustin teaching a Haitian drumming class at Fazil’s Studio in the Clinton neighborhood, Manhattan, 20 June 1981. To the left, the late drummer Bonnie Devlin takes notes.