Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Santa Muerte

On Friday  through Rodrigo Cruz's hard work and absolute kindness to us participants at the workshop he got a driver and a van to take us to the Doctores neighborhood to photograph one of the shrines to Saint Death or Santa Muerte. The subject intrigued me as soon as Eric posted some of the themes that could be documented once we arrived in el DF.
 It was the first day of the the workshop and it was raining. Rodrigo first scoped the site to see if it would be ok to photograph.He gave us the go ahead.
To my sense of relief and to my surprise not only were people at the shrine accepting of our presence, they were welcoming. What I had assumed would be a trip to a dodgy neighborhood turned out to be a rosary where families with their children attended. At no point did I sense any danger or feeling that we should not be there. I asked questions about the meaning of the different colors of Saint Death; Green for Money,Red for Love, Purple to ward off envy (envidia) and Black the most powerful of all providing protection from all evils that may befall the believer. People patiently answered my questions and agreed for me to make their portraits while it rained on us. We were there perhaps twenty minutes and because of space constraints we had limits as to how close we could shoot once the rosary began after all it is a religious ceremony that we had to respect and we also had to show upmost care not to over extend our welcome.The whole affair was short but meaningful to me, it challenged my preconceived notions about shooting in a place where I could have been viewed as an intruder.  I was instead not only tolerated but welcomed. Rodrigo deserves the credit for gaining us access and for having been such a giving human being. Muchas gracias de todo corazon.

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