Grimanesa Amorós. La Procesión, 2006–2007.
The forces of life and death are often seen as opposed, and our own fear of dying renders us incapable of understanding their interconnectedness; however, death as an integral stage of existence is impossible to ignore. Destruction necessarily precedes creation; we are all bound in a continual—material if not spiritual—cycle of death and rebirth. The ritualization of death, as evidenced in religious and funerary traditions such as the procesiones of Peru, imposes order on what seems to be an arbitrary and chaotic process—the earthly end of a human being. When I was a child, my mother used to take me to see the procesiones: masses dressed in blue wound their way through the streets of Lima, evoking images of waves, of forces of nature. The disorderly individuals of the crowd seemed to dissolve in the midst of the ritual. A different sort of order permeates La Procesión—a rhythm of emergence and decay. The dominant motif of the video is water—a life-giving and destructive force. Water is also associated with the idea of a state of flux; Greek mythology has souls passing over the river Styx in transit from the land of the living to a watery underworld. The disembodied faces of the film also float in a state of ambiguity and transition, oscillating to the rhythm of the water’s current. They decay into skulls, which dissolve into an explosion of new faces. The final image of the film conflates the paradoxical themes of life and death—a woman appears lifeless under the waves. While the crest of the water obscures our view of her eyes, we barely make out a flicker of the lids, and we are left asking, is she alive? The imagery in La Procesión is purposefully subtle. The mere suggestion of so grave a theme as death is apt to evoke reflections on the part of the viewer. The restrained, calm quality of the visuals is enhanced by the soundtrack, which was created especially for the video by the composer Omar Ajluni. I want viewers to see their own experiences reflected in this video, and to realize perhaps some of their deeper, more unconscious attitudes vis-à-vis the visage of death.
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