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Part of FotoFest Biennial participating group exhibition 'El Chow; Fruto en vaina' at El Rincon Social Houston TX curated by Maureen Penders

 

Reanimated (sarcophagus)

2018

Clay sarcophagus mixed with sheep blood agar, dirt, mud, vulture feathers, roots, leaves, & other materials from various burial sites of south Texas.

 

Reanimated is a body of work that has emerged from frequent visits to burial sites of south Texas, particularly Falfurrias Texas where the bodies of migrants were buried in unidentified mass graves by the authorities upon finding their remains. Using similar forensic methods of human remains recovery - site materials are attained such as dirt, mud, roots, leaves, vulture feathers, the detritus of the land where the cadavers were buried. 'Reanimated' is a 6 foot empty sarcophagus made out of clay mixed with the organic materials of the burial sites. The clay sarcophagus grows odor of fastidious bacteria, 'reanimating the life' of the burial sites, where the body is not present but only the fabric of the environment by which it has touched, absorbed, cycled and borne witness.

 

The piece was dismembered in fragments after the duration of the exhibition.

Burned remains of grave goods part of cemetery maintenance, Hargill TX

 

Gloria Anzaldúa's gravesite located at her childhood hometown of Hargill Texas, where the landscapes most of her literature was inspired by command the atmosphere, fauna and flora. Her engraved tomb reads,

 

May we seize the arrogance

to create outrageously,

sonar wildly - for the

world becomes as we

dream it

A pile of burned grave goods sits on the nearby brush terrain.

 

 

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Sacred Heart Cemetery and Don Pedro Jaramillo shrine, Falfurrias Brooks County TX

The land murmurs the souls of absorbed past times, Brooks County possesses unrested energy, the pilgrimage grounds of curandero, Don Pedro Jaramillo. Upon entering Jaramillo's shrine there are lit candles but no one in sight, instead hundreds of photographs and incenses surround his tombstone brought by his followers. Across the fields of the shrine on 901 County Road sits the operational Brooks County's immigration detention center.

Within the nearby town of Falfurrias rests Sacred Heart Cemetery, a site of forensic anthropological exhumation of migrant mass graves. Swarms of turkey vultures flock out of the trees when I walk nearby the burial sites - I collect feathers, roots, mud and clay from the grounds. 

The morning of January 1st, 2018

Two hours after the new years midnight of 2018 my grandfather suffered a cardiac arrest in his home. The photographs were taken by my sibling the morning after his body was taken from his bed to the coroner's office. But for a couple of hours his body laid resting on his bed, the walls around fissuring of dried antique paint, as if they were shedding skin. My grandfather passed away not knowing where his younger brother was located, he disappeared during an attempt to cross the border from Mexico to Texas. His whereabouts remain unknown, disappearance is more heavy than death itself. What remains are the ephemeral traces of the land, the mud and dirt hold the testimony of the disappeared.

 

*Photographs taken by Alexandra Lartigue

© Angel Lartigue 2021