Day of the Dead is one of the best holidays in Mexico. Photographer Edgar Olguín captured its essence with ballet dancers wearing Catrina makeup at several locations in Mexico City.
On November 2nd, Mexico welcomes the souls of the departed on Day of the Dead (as known as Día de los Muertos). People prepare altars with the favorite foods and drinks of the loved ones who have passed away, marigolds adorn the streets and markets, and there are celebrations all over the country, with papier maché skeletons, music, and people wearing Catrina costumes. It is without a doubt a party everybody should enjoy at least once in their lives to understand the interesting relationship Mexicans have with death, not as a mournful event, but rather a celebration of life.
Mexican photographer Edgar Olguín captured this festivity in a photo series called “Danzatrinas,” where ballet dancers with Catrina makeup pose at iconic locations in Mexico City. The photographer worked previously with ballerinas in a project called “Instante subterráneo” (Underground Instant), where the dancers were photographed on the subway, in an exercise that gave a new context to public space. In a similar way, “Danzatrinas” wants to talk about the Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos in everyday locations as markets or the subway, as a metaphor of how death can reach us anytime anywhere.
“For me, Day of the Dead is that natural conversation Mexicans have with those that have died. It is a way to tell them they are not really dead, that here we make an homage to them with love, food, drinks, and even cigarettes”, he says.
The makeup is inspired by the Catrina character, created in the early 20th century by Mexican engraver José Guadalupe Posada, who wanted to criticize European influence in Mexican culture. Over time, this skeletal face has become one of the most important icons of Dia de los Muertos in Mexico.
The locations chosen for this project were a marigold plantation in Xochimilco, Jamaica Market, which is one of the largest and popular in the city, and several subway stations.
The photographer considers that life is, of course, a path to death. “We live several small deaths and nobody is exempt from experiencing death. Death doesn’t happen in a complete way because as long as you don’t forget, it doesn’t have a complete effect”.
And as Mexican writer Octavio Paz said: “To the resident of New York, Paris, or London, the word Death is never pronounced because it burns the lips. Mexicans on the other hand, frequent it, caress it, they sleep with it, they celebrate it; it is one of their
favorite games and their most permanent love.” And so we welcome our dearly beloved, let them in and have a drink with them, because in the end we will all follow the same destination: death.
You can follow Edgar Olguín on Instagram.
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