La Luz y la Sombra
The beautiful video imagery from Day of the Dead in Oaxaca floats as projection through multiple layers of fabric, each leaving traces of shadows upon the layer behind. Walking through and between the layers, visitors are surrounded by the light and imagery of the video. As they walk towards the light or towards the darkness, their own shadows become a part of the installation. Music and sounds of the villages, synchronized with the imagery, fill the senses, creating a surreal environment in celebration of the Day of the Dead. Visitors are able to enter the gallery at any time during the film’s 20-minute loop, which makes each person’s experience unique, yet equally powerful experience.
Here in the U.S., we tend to avoid the subject of death, especially the thought of our own demise. We embalm and entomb our dead in the thought that their bodies will remain unchanged. It seems that we try to fool ourselves into thinking that if we don’t look at death then maybe it won’t really come.
In my years of traveling to Oaxaca, I noticed that death and danger are an accepted part of every day life. The iconic image of “La Calavera Catrina,” the humorous, elegant skeleton dressed in fancy clothes, is ubiquitous. With roots in pre-Hispanic traditions, the Day of the Dead (November 1-2) has been blended with Christian customs and is a major holiday throughout Latin America. Details of festival celebrations vary from country to country, region to region and even village to village. In much of southern Mexico, Day of the Dead is the most important and colorful celebration of the year.
My Oaxacan friends talk cheerfully about “Los Muertos” describing the large sand paintings and elaborate altars set for the festival when the dead return to party with the living. I am captivated by stories and photos of people sitting graveside at 2 a.m. to share memories of their departed family members, play cards and picnic among the graves. It is a time that is simultaneously joyous and sad, painful and beautiful.
La luz y sombra shares the experience of Day of the Dead as a beautiful and poetic alternative view that embraces death and our relationship to our loved ones who have passed.
Spending a few days each year acknowledging and honoring death and the dead emphasizes the importance of enjoying life deeply by reminding us that we will not be here forever.
I hope the installation shares the magic of that surreal space between joy and sadness, life and death.
ABOUT THE TEXTILES IN THE EXHIBITION
Since 2004, I have worked with artisans in the central valleys of Oaxaca and have been inspired by the rich exchange of ideas and culture through collaborating, teaching, and learning together. All the fabrics in this exhibition were commissioned from Oaxacan textile artisans.
I designed the cloths, spaces and imagery with specific projection details in mind, working with the qualities of reflection, opacity and density in the yarn selection, weave structure and added objects in order to play with the light and shadow of the projected images. The family celebrations of Rodrigo and Miriam, who made the textiles for this exhibition, are part of the story projected on the cloths.
Embroidered and embellished metallic silk organza
Embroidery and crochet by Miriam Campos – San Antonino, Oaxaca, Mexico
Pulled-thread and embellished cotton
Pulled-thread and crochet by Miriam Campos – San Antonino, Oaxaca, Mexico
Hand woven, hand dyed Tencel
Woven by Rodrigo Hernandez Quero - San Pablo de Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico
MUSIC IN THE EXHIBITION
Galleries interested in exhibiting La Luz y La Sombra
Contact: Carolyn Kallenborn