Yes, as the Idiot Photographer’s last post indicates, it’s time to take off the heavy silver cross, wipe off the eyeliner, and return to the ranks of the cheerful and well-adjusted. This is my last shot from Buenos Aires’ Ricoleta Cemetery, and I will be moving on to showing photographs of the rest of the city, where I had a remarkably lower success rate.
Most crypts at Ricoleta Cemetery are tall and narrow, with their front wide enough to accommodate a glass fronted double-leaved door. Through here the interior is clearly visible. Many crypts have a small altar on the back wall, and off to the side there are often very narrow stairs which lead to the catacombs. It is also not uncommon for the caskets to be interred right in front of the door, often on stone shelves built into the wall. I tried many shots of various interiors, but dim lighting and lack of tripod (they are banned at Ricoleta; I had mine with me but wasn’t about to risk getting kicked out for using it) made it tedious. The two below are my best attempts; the latter is actually and HDR bracket I was able to pull off by wedging the camera into some wrought iron designs long enough to shoot off a few different shutter speeds.
As I’ve noted in my last post, the statuary in Buenos Aires’ Ricoleta cemetery tends toward the hyperbolic. Mies van der Rohe, of the famous “less is more” dictum, would be spinning in the grave under his minimalist granite slab of a tombstone should he have been interred here. Here follow three more photographs of angels and maidens, eternal in marble.
Really, what is the point of being dead if you don’t have stone figures mourning your passing in perpetuity? Ricoleta cemetery in Buenos Aires has them in spades, in varied poses and shades of grief. For the pre-deceased, I offer an instructive tour on what to get when you’re getting sad statuary.
You have the basic somber girl, eyes downcast. It is always a girl, as homophobia is a spectre that follows you to the grave, apparently.
For the more dramatically inclined, there is the crypt-top pose.
But why be so subtle? Let them know how truly sad they are at your passing with the Cadillac of mournful statues. Yes, a marble woman draped across your tomb will undoubtedly drive home the point that it sucks that you’re dead.
It occurs to me that cemetery photography is a bit like cat photography. In each case, there’s only so much variety in subject matter, yet some find each incredibly photogenic. Of course, the audience for cemetery pictures is many magnitudes smaller, but the principle is the same. And just as with cat pictures, many people roll their eyes at the gloomy, heavy, gothiness of this kind of photography. But critics be damned, I can’t help it; put me in a graveyard, and the pictures practically take themselves. So, if your enthusiasm for this series is flagging, my partner the Idiot Photographer will do her part to counterbalance this gloom with… gloom of the urbex variety, perhaps? On second thought, if you’re tired of gloom, perhaps this is not the blog for you. Maybe go see what’s on the Food Network? Anyway, here is another post in this series on Buenos Aires’ Ricoleta Cemetery.
Three views of the (mostly) narrow avenues which crisscross Ricoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires.
Another shot from Buenos Aires’ cemetery of the rich and famous.
After yesterday’s long-winded introduction, today we’ll fast forward straight to the money shot.
As a special bonus, fell free to click here for an appropriate soundtrack for viewing this post.
I returned from Argentina a couple days ago with the hoped-for memory card bristling with raw material. Though I’ve spent the better part of Saturday evening and Sunday editing, I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’ve also had a chance to reflect, in conversation with the Idiot Photographer, on just what the hell I think I’m doing. So as a preamble to this series of posts on the Argentine capital, I’d like to throw out these musings to my fellow photographers out there to see if anything resonates. But let me start at the beginning.
I’m finding that photography and travel are inextricably linked in my mind. I would not be a very good studio photographer, and I’m not sure what I would do on a trip if I wasn’t shooting. That said, I don’t actually enjoy myself on these trips. While abroad (or in Detroit, Gary or wherever) I’m stressing about all the things you worry about in a foreign country: language barriers, finding my way around, not getting mugged or scammed, etc. I usually travel alone, so perhaps this aspect is more acute for me. I’m also anxious, because I need to get some good shots; if I don’t why I am even there? Of course I’m shooting the touristy stuff (would you go to Paris and not photograph the Eiffel Tower?) but I’m also trying to carve out some relatively fresh artistic ground, while keenly aware how silly it is for a non-native tourist who just drops into a city for five days to believe that he or she has captured anything of the true essence of the city. And so it is that these trips, particularly trips abroad, are mostly nerves, second guessings, and exhaustion.
First world problems, aren’t they?
But the story changes when I get back, and begin sifting through my shots. As I edit these pictures, I become proud of some of them, and in turn, my memory of the experience of those moments changes. Perhaps parenthood might be a good analogy here: parents are always proud of their children, though any given day of parenting, likely consisting of diapers, tantrums or adolescent surliness is unlikely to be rewarding in of itself. The rewards are cumulative, and beyond the quotidian trials of the experience itself. Of course, a parent probably won’t stop loving their child if they grow up to be a criminal. If I, on the other hand, was to return from a trip with nothing to show for it in the way of a good picture, I would have to ask myself, what the hell did I do all that for?
Well, that turned out a bit more like a plea for validation than I would’ve liked, but really, isn’t that kind of the point of a blog, or art in general?
With that out of the way, we can get back to Buenos Aires. Specifically, Ricoleta cemetery, where the rich and famous of Argentina have been interring their dead for nearly 200 years. It was an excuse to just go full Goth and milk these images for all the drama I could. Those with Goth allergies should moderate their visit to this site in the near future. In case of overdose, turn here for an antidote.
A quick P.S.- This shot was an attempt at image stacking. I was told tripods were not allowed in the cemetery, so the above is an attempt to stack in the dark sky from one exposure over the correctly exposed foreground. As the two images didn’t line up perfectly, and I’m still getting the hang of stacking, there’s a couple very obvious blurry spots where I fudged the overlay. I told IP I’d try, and post the results.I’m also a parent, and felt qualified making the parenting analogy. So there.
There is a cemetery just across the tracks to the west of the Packard plant, something which is often overlooked both literally and figuratively. Having consumed many Reese’s confections as a child and possessing the superior artistic acumen that comes with having a blog, I quickly descried two great things that go great together. Should I be accused of being maudlin, or of laying it on too thick, I will gladly stand those slings and arrows to bring you this, the photograph that goes to eleven. Ladies and gentlemen, kids in lycra capes and cheap eyeliner, I give you: gravestones as seen from inside a ruined factory.
I’m a fan of cemeteries in general. Of old cemeteries in European capitals, even more. The Assistens Kirkegaard in Denmark is full of gorgeous statuary, as well as the final resting place of Hans Christian Andersen. Photograph from a biting winter’s day in the January of 2012.
This will be my last contribution to the Idiot Photographer for at least a week. I’m vacationing in Iceland, and I hope to come back with at least two memory cards filled with raw material. In the meantime, I give you graves. Specifically, graves from the oldest cemetery in Gary, many of which predate the founding of the city.
While we can, we remember those moments we cherish the most.
Just as much as we regret those moments we were never allowed to have.
I love boneyards, the older the better. Memorials to people long forgotten, only a name and date, on weathered stone, hardly readable. Rusted doors and verdigrised copper, dusty stained glass. We try to remember them, the people we never knew.
Time wears everything away…
Faces are forgotten…