A celebration of remembrance is a subject well-suited to photography. Like the Day of the Dead observation itself, photography provides a fleeting and transient image of the past. Michael Lesey and the late Susan Sontag, among others, have noted photography’s connection with memory, the passage of time and the rituals of life and death.
15 photographers were given the task of celebrating and honoring the childhood of their past. Each photographer has made several images using the traditional Day of the Dead altar as a set for the objects depicted. The subjects interpreting the death of childhood may include toys, articles of clothing or early environments; these objects become momento mori – icons of personal meaning and documents of material culture. The childhood portrait re-photographed honors an earlier physical existence and its loss.
The purpose of the exhibition is not to keep alive the playful and sentimentalized memories of childhood or necessarily to mourn the loss of innocence, but to underscore that in a lifetime one constantly undergoes stages of death, that all passage of time creates certain deaths, including the death of childhood.
Each year, 21c Museum celebrates el Día de los Muertos in a collaboration with the University of Louisville professors and students. 21c’s involvement in the Day of the Dead city-wide celebration is to host contemporary art sculptures and installations that take a new perspective on this traditional festival. The festival is a joyous holiday, originating in Mexico, that blends native Aztec and Roman Catholic traditions and beliefs to celebrate and honor the lives of deceased friends and family members. In this tradition, death is not seen as the end, but rather a new stage of life. It is now celebrated with cultural variations in areas throughout Latin America and the United States.
Artists in this exhibition include: Mitch Eckert (Professor), Eric Christensen, Suzanne Cotter, Stephanie Justice, Nicholas Linares, Crystal Ludwick, Cameron Monzon, Kevin Parrish, Tripp Rogers and Lana Wilson.