Delta / Aeromexico open a non-stop flight from Portland to Mexico City

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Now that there’s a direct flight to Mexico City I am tempted to revisit Mexico. Some images from the previous trip are below.
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This was Sunday and the daughter did not want to go to church. The mother’s church attire was also remarkable.
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Another church situation. This time, it is a wedding. To me it looks like a frame from a Pazolini movie.
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The dog is enjoying his terrace, a very mexican style of Architecture.
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I met these young women on a walk up the hill where a national monument is located. It was a steep climb so everyone needed a break every once in a while. So I asked if they would pose for a picture.
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La Catrina, the death lady, is the most popular image of Mexico
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Night life in Guanajuato
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Javier and Pam, at the friends’ house
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The nuns distribute food for the poor
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Javier (left) introduces Pam to one of his friends (right). Unfortunately, the woman had Alzheimers so he had to introduce us to her every day. She was a very nice lady.
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Another private visit. This man is a sculptor, well known in Mexico. Sorry I can’t remember his name. His father was a famous painter, again, no recollection of the name.
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Lalo in his red Guatemala shirt is taking Pam to his favorite bars in town.
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Pam does some sketching, as usual
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There’s a small Diego Rivera museum in Guanajuato, with some strange effigies and good photographs
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More sketching
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Our little house overlooking Guanajuato. This was around Xmas time.
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This is Oaxaca. They love parades in Oaxaca.
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The bored western tourists. I’ve taken similar pictures all over the world.
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The Day of the Dead

I have been invited to fly over to Oaxaca for the Day of the Dead.

The Day of the Dead is one of the most beautiful and spiritual events in Mexico. The idea of Death as an absolute Perfection permeates the Mexican culture.

Sadly, I’ll have to be in France until 1 November, and the celebrations in Mexico are between 1-2 November. It’s just too late for me this year.

920x920 The original image of La Catrina, the Death Lady, was created by Jose Guadalupe Posada, a Mexican artist. Today, it’s an iconic figure representing Mexico worldwide.

I began to think about the Day of the Dead and the phenomenon of La Catrina a few years back during my trip to Mexico City and Guanajuato.

If you look at it from the viewpoint of permanence, nothing lasts longer than Death. A woman won’t get any older when she is dead. When only the bones are left, this is the ultimate perfection.  The unsurpassed beauty of creation that has reached its climax.

FRIDA KAHLO (DAY OF THE DEAD) | #MARVELLACONTEST2017 | ANGELIA CARISSA

For the Mexican people, this holiday is not about aesthetics, of course.  For me, however, it’s very much about aesthetics and art.

Unrelated to the Holiday of the Dead, there’s this exhibition of some 50-80 dead people in Guanajuato. Due to the natural climate conditions the bodies have been preserved from the early 1800-s.

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The French doctor who treated some of the people is part of the exhibition now. (Yes, people tale selfies with him.)
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Many childden would die young in those days
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Some of the corpses are in an odd position, like there were some convulsions after death
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But mostly, these are calm, beautiful bodies
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With a sense of sophistication
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For the display, they are positioned vertically. Which is not how they were buried and became mummified
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Some of the bodies look like they were experiencing horror
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This woman can remind you of Munch’s Scream but she was at peace when she died. As the body starts to decompose the mouth open up in a natural way. In the grave, unless your lips are stitched, we all look like that.

The transformation of travel into music and images

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After several years of Jeanne d’Arc research and visiting virtually every place in France related to her. It still feels like I am barely touching the subject.
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Pam’s brushes and my Leica. The tools of the trade that have been around the world
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Some of the guitars, the ultimate dream machines (a Dano Electric, the Hoffner base – hello Paul McCartney!) two trumpets in their cases and a massive Sitar in the corner. Also in a case.
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My Fender Telecaster (France), the best guitar ever
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The Sketchbooks of Normandie
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Hong Kong, winter 2017. Pam writes down some of my “sayings”
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The Rolleiflex for some studio work
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Pam’s at work
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You just have to keep going, no matter what
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Normandy 2017

The long haul home

I jotted this schedule to avoid Paris. Spending a few hours on a train to Bordeaux seemed like a good idea: these trains are larger than the TGV so you can do some work. It’s easier to load / unload the bicycle as well. In fact, all the three seats in my row were vacant so I was able to take a good nap from Marseille to Toulouse.

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However, there is some train collision which messes up the entire network. I arrive in Bordeaux 55 minutes late. My train to Poitier has left. I have about one hour until the next train. Which is also late! So I have some time for a beer.

Finally, I am on the TGV for Paris Montparnasse. Two minutes after the train pulls off the platform somebody throws a massive rock in my window. WOW. There are some angry people in France.

The conductor calls the police and they make me move to a different seat (the cracked window is just fine with me but they insist).

By the time I arrive in Poitiers it’s pitch-black and raining. I barely manage to hop on the last train for Montmorillon. 40 minutes later I am on my bicycle on the night road to L.T.

It’s drizzling but I feel good. Because of the clouds and water mist there is diffusion of light in the air. So you can actually see the edge of the road.

It’s much worse when it is crystal clear and there’s no moon. The black skies absorb all the light from the earth.  When it happens you can’t see the road at all.  You vanish in this overwhelming darkness! But not this time

The method of elimination

I am trying to shoot some film again. It’s a sensitive subject for me on many levels. Here in the south of France 35mm black and white would feel unnatural. Which makes me agonize over using color.

Reluctantly, I am giving it a try.  In the form of the most primitive camera known to Mankind (Holga N120).

I hope the lens is sufficiently blind to leave nothing of substance on the Fujicolor Reala film.

My subject is eliminating substance from consciousness, I guess. Perhaps, eliminating consciousness.

My previous photobook was an attempt at consciousness, in the context of the Atomic bombing of Japan. Also, when I was shooting those pictures the Fukushima nuclear disaster took place (2011). Some crude snaps of a few book pages are here: https://griffoyger.com/2016/04/14/burn/

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Now I am in France and strangely, it reminds me of Japan.

At Cassis France, my most coveted idea is rendering the incredible shapes and colors of the blue pine (pin bleu).  The tone of the bark is a total mystery.  You could try painting it but photography hates the painterly approach.

You could use a human body to generate friction between the live and the dead. Or, you can smash up your camera and make music instead.