Juan Carlos Alom. Nacimiento de una tierra (Birth of a Land), 2010. Gelatin silver prints. 10 prints: 15 ¼ x 15 ¼ inches, each. Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, promised gift of Jorge M. and Darlene Pérez ©Juan Carlos Alom.

Juan Carlos Alom’s Nacimiento de una tierra features images of the Abakuá secret society, an Afro-Cuban fraternity that originated in the Cross River region of southeastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon. Enslaved West Africans brought Abakuá to Cuba during Spanish colonization. Members of this society, known as Náñigos, can be found in parts of Havana and in Matanzas.  

Nacimiento de una tierra emerged after the artist participated in the birth of a new plante—an Abakuá initiation ceremony—in 2010, a time when many young men were being initiated into the society in Havana. Heightened by Alom’s distinct use of black and white photography, this series captures not only the enigmatic character of the Abakuá society but also the performative character of this celebration, the polyrhythmic complexity of its music, the corporeal expressions, and the costumes, and accessories of these dance rituals—all of which persist into the present.