Semápolis: abandonment, color and death in Mexico City

Made in Mexico City, between the months of November and December 2019 the series “Semapolis. Polysemic images: abandonment, color and death in Mexico City ”is the photographic approach of a curious link that I have found in Mexican culture: the use of color in relation to the issue of death and abandonment. When we goes to a Mexican cemetery or pantheon it is common to find tombs painted with different colors. Red, green, yellow, orange and blue, are present in many of the tombstones that keep the bodies and memories of the beloved people who have left, not to return but in memories. But it is also common to find many of these graves with some carelessness, especially in the public and older pantheons. The Civil Pantheon of Dolores is the largest and oldest of the CDMX. There rest the remains of several prominent figures. And there is also a traditional ceremony every November during the popular Day of the Dead. It is, without a doubt, an even cultural reference. And when you visit it is easy to perceive the importance that the Mexican attaches to death as another stage of happiness: the colorful of plants and flowers has a special paragon in which it is distributed on the surface of the thousands of tombs and tombstones that populate that mortuary space, and makes think of a kind of loud and cheerful party.

The Mexican needs to conjure sadness, to prevent abandonment from succumbing to nostalgia, and perhaps for this reason he hastens to color the spaces where the inert is present. Near the Dolores Pantheon is the old La Ola Water Park, closed in 2007, after 28 years of providing the inhabitants of the CDMX with one of its best recreational spaces. Since its closure the neglect took account and the structures deteriorated. At present it looks like a ghost park, which nevertheless resists disappearing and is helped in this resistance by young graffiti artists who have flooded it with color. When we enters the ghost park La Ola, a kind of psychedelic experience receives it. We can imagine that at night the colors and figures that today decorate its demolished walls and its rusty machines come alive and open their doors so that the deceased neighbors of the Dolores Pantheon come together with their own dyes and experiences to light the rumba. And so far everything seems to be a party and joy of death flooded with color, but there is something heavy in the environment. There was throughout this year in Mexico City with the theme of the disappearances and kidnapping of young women in the Metro, the high number of femicides and acts of gender violence, with the fear and growing rage of mothers, sisters, aunts, friends and companions who suffered the pain of the death of their beloved women.

Women in CDMX also wear colors, such as the tombs and walls shattered by the abandonment of the Dolores Civil Pantheon and La Ola Water Park. But these colors are not enough to conjure the fear of harassment, kidnapping and murder. Women in CDMX also walk alone dressed in bright colors, but most are forced to follow an uncertain, insecure course, even if they bravely approach the street. Color does not save them, nor does religion. It does not save them entrusting themselves to their dead in November, nor to the Virgin of Guadalupe. They only have to be empowered since their establishment in self-defense groups. His path seems to be drawn to a cross, behind which he always seems to wait for a male figure to perpetrate violence. From the color of the graves and the joy that seems to invoke to give happiness to the dead, there is also the fragile happiness that accompanies women in Mexico City. «Semapolis» goes about that. They are images that trace a polysemic path to warn about that reality, or those realities that intermingle and overlap in the overwhelming chaos of this cosmopolitan city that celebrates its saints and their dead in every corner.