Colombia: infierno paradisiaco
“You do not belong to anywhere until you have a corpse in the ground…" writes Gabriel García Márquez in One Hundred Years of Solitude, explaining the relationship Colombians have with death. The emotional bond with beloved ones does not end with death but turns into a holy connection, part of one’s own identity.
Most Colombians have many corpses in the ground, as result of an endemic violence that seems endless. A violence that many people around the world keep associating with the “drug war” but that has been bleeding the nation almost from its independence from Spain (1819), having deep roots in the social inequity, poverty and lack of education that too many Colombians suffer.
Infierno Paradisiaco is the product of a three years long photographic journey into Colombian cemeteries to discover the despair but also the magic realism of an unpredictable country. The mystic aura surrounding cemeteries, in Colombia melts away, making space for a cumbersome reality. It seems as if chaos, lack of sanitation, fake flowers or bars that protect the tombstones from thefts, demystifies death and makes it more humane. As if between the land of the living ones and the one of the dead there were no separation, the separation perceived in Europe or the U.S. In Colombia, each of the two lands is ruled by an absolute, maddening and surrealistic lack of rules.
This series was shot between 2007 and 2009.