The current exhibition at the Riflemaker gallery, "Voo-Doo: Hoochie Coochie and the Creative Spirit" reveals just how much magic and ritualized antagonism can be evoked by works with roots in voodoo and its culture. There is a difference between voodoo as an organized cult and voodoo as a system of magic, and the exhibition seems focused on the latter-- a tradition persistent in folk beliefs, conjuring, and conjurers apart from its cultic context. "Hoochie Coochie and the Creative Spirit" picks up at the intersection between art's reliance on a heightened sense of awareness and voodoo's mysterious "welling up or possession" its "fever in the heart of man." The exhibition doesn't waste space or time on preconceptions of dolls and pins, or wild New Orleans basement snake worshipping services-- that would do disservice to the higher idea of the program. Rather, the exhibition takes voodoo's spiritual fascinations with the realms of the imagined and makes them physical in thematic displays of art. Fittingly, the gallery space itself puts viewers into a heightened place of awareness, making such experimental showing and telling possible. Upon entering, one can hear the cooing of Muddy Waters and Screaming Jay Hawkins. On the wall nearest the entrance hangs a voodoo wishing machine inviting visitors to write their wish on a card and put it in the box with the accompanying fee-- £1 for good voodoo, £2 for bad. Through the door and around the corner, two signs direct visitors. Downstairs to "Spells," upstairs to "Dolls." And you go up and down the narrow staircases, vivid daydreaming about magic, mystery, corridors filled with oddities. In the narrow downstairs hall, a film is projected above a doorway-- "Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti," a black and white documentary filmed by artist and initiated Vodoun priestess Maya Derren. The screen cackles, the sound is dull and distant. I don't know if I had ever gotten goosebumps in a commercial gallery before. The basement gallery space, "Spells," is hot and smells of wax as soon as you walk in. Italian-born artist Maria Novella del Signore has installed two trays of wax on burners, boiling away, making the room smell like a thousand Catholic churches. The sound of the bubbling wax seems to echo in the comparative stillness of the room. This is the soundtrack provided for us to view photographs by Leah Gordon-- dark, quiet, mildly disturbing in their confidence. Her photograph of "The Knife Throwers" particularly stands out: two young men, their skin oiled, wearing masks in a blinding kind of black and white heat. Upstairs, I found the "Dolls" room a little more difficult. In a small space, lights dimmed, stand perhaps a dozen different doll-based installations. There is barely room to walk around, eyes fill all the negative space. Rachmaninov plays in a ghostly loop on a scratchy plastic record player placed next to two life-sized dolls in what look like confirmation dresses, facing the wall. Dolls themselves are simple, naturally sweet items. But when placed in close proximity in a dark room, all of them take on a sinister tone. These dolls are bizarre, perhaps you could even call them the opposite of toys. Alice Anderson's work is particularly disturbing. She decided to make a replica of herself, a smaller version of the artist to scale. After contacting a wax artist at Madame Tussaud's, Anderson and the figure artist embarked on a two-month process to create the miniature Anderson. Eventually, the artist felt threatened by her miniature, and placed her in a plastic coffin. In the room, you can see the coffin with the doll inside, as well as a photo documenting the artist and doll together. Because Anderson saw something sinister in the doll and felt compelled to restrain it, it provokes the viewer to look into the casket to see if we can see that sinister feeling. And because we are sent to look for it, we are able to find it. Such diverse and mysterious stories are told in this exhibition. From staggering, explicit, sexual murals to perverse exercises in sexualized pre-pubescent girls, to gorgeous, glittering, quilted maps of the slave trade, "Voo-Doo: Hoochie Coochie and the Creative Spirit" is unrelenting in its taste for the new, the provocative, and the intersection between magic and art. "Voo-Doo: Hoochie Coochie and the Creative Spirit" is at Riflemaker through April 4, 2009. The gallery is at 79 Beak Street, Soho, London.