“A person does not belong to a place until there is someone dead under the ground…", writes Gabriel García Márquez in One Hundred Years of Solitude, explaining Colombians’ relationship with death. The emotional bond with our beloved does not end with death but rather turns into a holy connection; part of one’s own identity and of a sacred, unique relationship with the territory.
As the result of an endemic, endless violence, profoundly related to the dispute for land ownership, most Colombians have many dead buried in the ground. It is estimated that between 1958 and 2012, there were over 200,000 casualties in Colombia’s armed conflict; over 80 percent were civilians.
Infierno/Paraíso is the product of a three years long photographic journey into Colombian cemeteries to discover the despair but also the resilience 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 trivial. As if between the land of the living ones and the one of the dead there were no separation, the separation perceived in other countries. 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.
In 2013, BBC published part of the series.