Wednesday 1 November, 2006
Noon. Corner of Reforma y Independencia.
A group of about 15 people have gathered at the feet of the human/police
barrier to make a sand painting that spanned the width of the
street, from sidewalk to sidewalk. A funerary/Day of the Dead
custom, a sand painting is often made in the memory of someone
who has died, using colored sands and stencils, measuring approximately
3x6 feet. The imagery is usually religious or mystical, and reflects
something of the person being remembered. In this instance, the
woman in red has stenciled on the white base a portrait of Ulises
Ruiz in black, and under that the word “ASESCINO”
(murderer). Others are stenciling skulls in the corners, one woman
is sprinkling marigold petals, the flower of the dead, in a border
around the edge.
Viva la APPO: Photographs by Hank Tusinski
The increasing focus of my work over the past 10 years has been the celebration of Dia de los Muertos - Day of the Dead - on both sides of the border, with yearly trips to cemeteries in Mexico usually border towns but as far south as Hermosillo and Guaymas. In October/November 2006 I made a long anticipated trip to Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico to participate in and document the Dia de los Muertos events there.
However, what commanded my heart and attention was in the streets; the uprising/revolution of the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO), then six months into the struggle against the forces of corruption and repression. During my five week stay, I photographed various manifestations of the APPO movement, from mega-marches to encampments, graffiti to altars/ofrendas, coming away with over 1500 images that speak to the rich, creative vitality and mystery of an enduring spirit.
As with Dia de Muertos, the awareness of death can paradoxically give a poignant clarity to living. Or in the words of Edward Abbie, "Where life is difficult it seems to take on a greater value."