Art direction ALESSANDRA LANNA Photography & Text ALESSANDRO GIALLOCOSTA
Post production Lisa Pepe
Translation Alessandro Santilli
Imagine the small plant on your terrace, you water it every morning, and then one day you notice the small herbs born spontaneously, for no particular reason you decide to water even those ones instead of tearing them up.
About two months ago there was the “Dìa de Muertos”, the Mexican holiday who celebrates the dead, a feast that mixes pre-Columbian customs and pagan rites with the latest Catholic tradition, in fact, it is celebrated on November 2nd.
Just looking at the pictures at a later time, I manage to read the recent history of these graves. The crowns of flowers are covered with cellophane, plastic flowers are covered by plastic sheets to protect them from the bad weather, from the sun and to prevent any possible damage.
Looking carefully, I realize that these graves are made of simple cement blocks, in itself sad; no fine marble, nothing of the monumental mausoleums we know and not even of our common graves. Someone has built little altars made of bricks or wood and painted them blue, someone else has covered the grave with colorful tiles, with a blue lacquer or with glass bolts or somebody who, using a minimal style, left grow a mat of moss, to cover the dreary grey cement. Images depicting Jesus and Mary are faded by the sun, have been there for a long time; maybe those images have even belonged to other graves.
You can feel the richness of a poverty that is not a limitation but an imitation of the nature; it would cost too much to use real flowers, they’d be damaged within a week, and even just one day of dried flowers would be enough to bring the entire cemetery to the desolate sadness that we already know.
Among the various customs in the Mexican worship of the dead, they use to paint sugar skulls with cheerful ornaments, bright colors and various embellishments. The meaning of this custom is that the dead are not really dead and they are happy in their afterlife. And I think that sugar is sweet, definitely far from the idea of the death that we usually have.
I always thought that cemeteries should not be located too far away from the areas where we live, there should be no cities life and cities of death, perhaps they should coexist together in our urban fabric, as well as the memory of the dead should not be a duty relegate to the day of the anniversary, to the visit of the cemetery, to the fear of death.