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.
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.
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.
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.
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
21 October 2017, Marseille
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/
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.