‘Red Girl’ in Mexico
Día de los Muertos: Red Girl in Mexico
In the West we fear death yet it is our nightly entertainment. We outsource death. We try to ‘let go’ of those who have died, rather than inviting the dead back into our lives. We like to keep a clear boundary between the living and the dead.
In 2013 I undertook an artist residency in Oaxaca, Mexico to immerse myself in Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations when the living welcome the dead with feasts, vigils and parades, with private and collective acts of remembering. I wanted to experience what it is like when death is very alive in the cultural imagination.
This series of drawings was inspired by the size and quirky vibrancy of the giant papier-mâché skeletons and puppets created by Mexican artists that dance in the streets and decorate altars and homes. These figures are important in the folk art collections of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Working with oil pastel I explore the colours and liveliness of a Mexican approach to death. I use my character ‘Red Girl’ to play with my own anxieties about death. The permeability between the living and the dead and between life and death interests me. I am curious about how do we bring awareness of death into life.
The blog produced by Digby Duncan and myself in Oaxaca can be viewed at: http://journeystotheunderworld.com/author/sarahcgibson/.