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Alejandra Solar M.F.A.

M.F.A. Thesis: "CELEBRATION OF DEATH"

Betreuung: Prof. Ute Eitzenhöfer, Prof. Eva-Maria Kollischan & Prof. Theo Smeets

Auszug aus dem theoretischen Teil der Masterarbeit

Throughout my creative process I continually gather images from the mundane. Then I select some of the characters, landscapes and objects I have discovered to become part of a different story in an imaginary world.  By placing these elements in a new context, altering and playing with them, I find surprising and unexpected connections between them and their new environment. Then the stories start over, and the ordinary and familiar become uncanny and strange. Themes of mystery, nostalgia, fiction, death and fantasy emerge and become great sources of inspiration. 

INTRODUCTION

Images have a very strong presence in my work, and are difficult to explain how I choose them; some are just thoughts that are floating in my mind.

My work has a distinct atmosphere influenced by themes of loneliness, mystery, macabre, enigma, magic, fear, silence, disturbance, absurdity, fantasy, black humour and death.

Death along with other elements related to this has always interested me. Death has a strong influence and always had a dominant role in Mexican culture.

In recent years Mexico has been struggling from violence. As a result death became a matter of everyday life and fear has been a constant feeling for the Mexican people. I felt vulnerable in that world where violence and death became ordinary, were life could be so fragile. And I think when something like this is happening in your country it is very hard not to talk about that or address to that.

Lately I have been interested in the relationship and contradiction between death and life, especially in the context of the beliefs of my Aztec ancestors. They believed that performing human sacrifices to their gods would preserve the existence and the continuity of life.

The contradiction is still evident in Mexico today, but takes a different form. Mexico does not take death so seriously, it teases death, and the memory of the deceased is celebrated with offerings and parties.

Death is a universal theme of human existence, but a Mexican death is full of life, and this contradiction interests me the most, how grieving and laughing can get along so well? How is it possible to conceive a cemetery as a gathering place for colourful celebrations?

In the Mexican culture, certain elements are added to the life-death contradiction, such as, colour, music, celebration, joy and humour. The black humour with which Mexicans face tragedy is related to the way they look at death, since it is something inevitable there is no place for tragedy, only for humour.

After all this time in Europe and observe the different way in which death is commemorated some questions arise.
Why in Mexico death is not mourned, but instead celebrated?
Why mourning is colourful instead of dark?

Why is death full of life?

In Mexico the memory of loved ones who have died is celebrated in a very particular way. In the celebration of the Day of the Dead the popular belief is that the deceased has divine permission to visit family and friends on earth and enjoy once again the pleasures of life. Mexicans visit the graves of relatives and friends and adorn them with colourful flowers and offerings. This Beautiful tradition is a joyful celebration of death, rather than a sober mourning.

The Aztec culture has had an important influence in what nowadays is known as the Mexican celebration of death. For the Aztec death encompassed the entire reality of the universe, it signified not an end but a stage in constant cycle of rebirth.

For me is important to explore the Aztec concept of life and death, look through their funerary rites, their representations of death art, and their ceremonies of human sacrifice where they celebrated life and death at the same time.

I am interested in the indigenous aspects of death, because my grandmother used to tell me surreal stories about deceased relatives, her roots where mainly indigenous and her tales full of words in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztec.

Through this research I expect to understand better my work, see how strong my work is influenced by my roots and if through my work and imagery I say something about my country. I will explore the themes of celebrations of death in the Aztec culture and in the actual Mexican culture, and how the popular culture has reinterpreted those celebrations.

To conclude I will talk about two contemporary Mexican artists whose work interest me because they use death as a source of inspiration, both artists make reference to the anguish that living in a big and dangerous city is, resulting in simple but powerful work. 

Fotos des praktischen Teils der Masterarbeit

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19. Mai 2015