Friday, May 15, 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday 14 - Tepoztlan Cemetery

Death has been very much on my mind this week, as we had to face the tragic situation at school, whereby one of our students with a heart condition, collapsed and died on the school field in front of her teachers, friends and peers on Wednesday 13th May, on her younger brother's birthday (and mine too.)

It has been a tough week all round as we have worked hard to support our students to begin coping with and expressing their feelings about this tragic event, and dealing with the deep sadness that has descended upon the school; getting that healing process underway...

These shots are thus in memory of our student Ana-Luisa, 12 years old, whom we lost this week from our close-knit school community...

Mexico has its own very special relationship with death, manifested in the amazingly unique Day of the Dead festivities and graveside vigils at the beginning of November, which serve to maintain a close relationship and continuing communication with those loved ones who have passed away. Death is not a taboo subject here, and children are initiated into this openness from an early age; indeed Death is looked squarely in the face and dealt with. It is not uncommon, for example, for close-ups of the dead to be put on the front page of newspapers, even those who have died in gruesome accidents, and it is not regarded as sensationalist or morbid here. I remember seeing the work of a Mexican press photographer, Enrique Metinides, at the Photographers' Gallery in London whose job was exactly that, to get the first shot of the most recently deceased. It is also not unusual for families to take photos of their loved ones immediately after death, and keep them lovingly displayed in their homes....

All these shots were taken at the beautiful cemetery in Tepoztlan, a small village only an hour south of Mexico City. All cemeteries here are well visited, well tended, tranquil places for contemplation and reflection.....

This particular cemetery has a wonderful setting, as you can see more from this overview of the whole place...

And finally here is the photographer at the cemetery gates.............


Did anyone else see that photography exhibition in London 2003? as far from being lurid or gratuitous, his work was really beautiful, capturing humanity and dignity in death. For more thought-provoking shadow shots from around the world this week click here for Hey Harriet....

21 comments:

That is the chicken said...

What a difficult week for you and everyone at the school and the little girls family. My thoughts go out to all concerned. Sometimes it's good to create a memory as you reflect on a life.. as you have done here.

A Cuban In London said...

Mixed emotions for you and for me, too. I don't know whether to wish you a happy nirthday having read your post and the theme behind it. And I don't know whether to congratulate you on the excellent shots (especially the first one). I just hope you have a better week from tomorrow. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

PS: Word verification 'quito' and you're in Mexico. Funny, uh?

just jody said...

nice post in honor of ana-luisa. i especially liked the crucifix with the heart shadow shot. happy belated birthday.

The Summer Kitchen Interiors said...

These a such strikingly beautiful shadows. They are so fitting for the post you have. Death isn't an easy subject for kids, but it is more difficult when the child dies at school. Our thoughts go out to you and those at school!

Gallery Juana - ギャラリー ワナ said...

I remember when I was visiting Mexico, a Mexican acquaintance showed me a picture of her Father lying in bed and explained that he was deceased at the time the photo was taken.

I am sorry to hear about the student's death. Wishing you a time of healing on your birthday.

Lily Hydrangea said...

It's so sad when a child dies. I will say prayers for you & your community and especially Ana-Luisa. You have a lovely community of support and faith.

Eleanor said...

It is very sad when a young child passes away so tragically. As a teacher it is also a really challenging time - to respond to all the questions and sadness in the school. You have posted a very moving post and the photographs are beautiful.

Martha said...

Beautifu series of shadow shot photos. I'm so sorry to hear about the student, how sad.

Catherine said...

That is the c, Cuban,Jody, juana, summer,lily,martha,eleanor...thanks so much for your kind and supportive words this week...much appreciated..
ps I have found the answer to my own question...the name of the mexicna photographer is ENRIQUE METINIDES and the xhibition was 2003..have a look at his work..

Sylvia K said...

It had to have been a heartbreaking week! My heart goes out to all of you! These are sad, but incredibly beautiful shots! Thanks for sharing!

Pagan Sphinx said...

Dear Catherine,
I'm so sorry about Ana-Luisa. How very, very sad. I wish your school community all the power of belief and hope.

There is so much in this post I can relate to, being Portuguese and having a very strong connection to my country, where I was born and still have most of my family, including my dear mother.

The way death is handled is so different. Grief is open and discussed among family and friends and neighbors. And people truly are allowed to grieve as a community. It's so completely different than in the US and other parts of Europe. But there you go, Mexico and the other Latin countries share that common heritage.

These are gorgeous shadow shots and all the more poignnat given what you all have experienced with the passing of Ana-Luisa. WHich by they way, is the name of a cousin of mine in Portugal. Exact same spelling, of course. Beautiful name.

indiajourney said...

Extremely sorry for your loss. Do take care. The post and your photos honours the memory of Ana-Luisa.

Richie's 2ts Inspires said...

Such a dramatic shadows. Love the wrought iron crosses and everything. Though the incident. So sad to think.

Am really sorry. My thoughts to all concern and hope everybody accept the reality.

Take care & God Bless...

Linda said...

Oh, 12 years old? How very sad. Absolutely wonderful shots -- quite the memorial.

Cecile/DreamCreateRepeat said...

I think a shadow shot Sunday post is the perfect time to wish you both a happy birthday and sincere condolences on your loss. Life and death shadow each other, and one loses meaning without the other....

Sarah said...

I am sorry to read about Ana-Luisa, that is so sad and just an unimaginably awful thing for all of you to go through. You have commemorated her with some beautiful and tranquil pictures.

Raven said...

Beautiful series of photos. I'm so sorry about the death of your student - and on your birthday too! I hope that you are able to celebrate your birthday belatedly when the trauma and grief have passed. Thank you for this lovely photo series and reflections on different cultural approaches to death.

Fly Girl said...

What a beautiful tribute to Ana-Lusisa. My daughter is 12 and I can't imagine dealing with her loss at such a tender age. I think that the Mexican way of celebrating life as well as death makes more sense than running away from it. Happy belated birthday, thanks for the post.

Dianne said...

it takes a strong heart and soul to face such a hard time and still find beauty - good on you

I'm so sorry for the loss your community is feeling

your photos are beautiful and touching

Catherine said...

Hi Sylvia, Pagan, India, Richie, Dianne,Flygirl, Linda, Raven, Cecile,Sarah... what a wonderfully warm response from everyone this week...I feel quite overwhelmed by such support from my blogging friends...thanks again...

Delwyn said...

Catherine,
This has been a sad and challenging time for you.
What a healthy approach to death in the Mexican culture. We have so many unhelpful taboos.

Thank you for the interesting discussion.

Happy Days to come...