día de los muertos

margaritas for breakfast?
that cool touch when another human uses a wet brush to paint shadows on your face?
the quiet of an bricked exhibition hall.
the bursting colors of an altar, created with the bright colors of mexico in mind.

photographers zoom in on the intricate details of frozen-in-action skeleton figures, carefully arranged in a suspended sort of fashion. they appear mid-sentence, as though the dance will resume when the living lock the doors and depart. tobacco rolled cigarettes litter the display, along with the favorite foods of those long-gone. the floors of the oxo tower are never-ending, stretching crawling upwards towards the darkest rooms of the exhibition, where artists of all ages are painting {edible} sugar skulls with {also edible} colored frosting. in the very back, there is a heaping pile of people and bean bags. there are no windows {only cold, concrete walls} so you can hardly make out a lifeless lump from a breathing one. the pile is illuminated and framed by the light coming from the 1984 film, “under the volcano” which is being projected on the wall. i try my hand at sugar skull painting but the delicate skull crumbles in my hand. all is well, it’s just as fun eating it anyway…

 

this year’s day of the dead was spent with good company on london’s southbank.
here is a bit about the mexican holiday from the oxo tower website:

 

The Day of the Dead is an annual holiday celebrated throughout Mexico to honour and remember loved ones who have died, and send prayers to those who are recently departed. The festival is celebrated for two days from November 1st: Día de los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents), specifically for remembering children, and through the day and night of November 2nd: Dia de los Muertos – the Day of the Dead. It is believed at this time the gates to the after-world are open and prayers of the living can freely travel to the realm of the deceased. Likewise the deceased can make a journey to accept offerings from their relatives and friends.

 

upon entering the exhibition, you can’t help but notice a massive display / altar / homage to the dead. it’s huge, the size of many bedrooms in london. the creators have decorated it specifically to honor those who perished during the great war, handwritten letters to family / lovers / friends from around 1914 catch the camera’s eye. the vivid colors temporarily render you blind to the grim theme of death in the room.

what i love about día de los muertos is that it isn’t meant to be grim, it’s meant to be celebratory. this is not the first time i have observed this holiday, and i never before realized how eating the favorite foods of your deceased loved ones can truly bring them back to you, if only for a moment. sensory stimulation. it’s comparable to closing your eyes and smelling an old perfume bottle belonging to your mother. even if she is still in your life, it takes you back to the time when you were child, examining the contents of her jewelry box, with it’s baubles, and clip-on earrings, and bottles. you can almost feel the old carpet on your tiny bare legs as you rummage.

some photographs from the day…

altar, day of the dead, oxo tower, south bank, london, celebrations, mexican holiday, dis de los muertos, remembering the dead, events in london, american in london, the lady's guide to adventure, spooky, food, culture, mexico, art gallery, sugar skulls

altar, day of the dead, oxo tower, south bank, london, celebrations, mexican holiday, dis de los muertos, remembering the dead, events in london, american in london, the lady's guide to adventure, spooky, food, culture, mexico, art gallery, sugar skulls

altar, day of the dead, face painting, oxo tower, south bank, london, celebrations, mexican holiday, dis de los muertos, remembering the dead, events in london, american in london, the lady's guide to adventure, spooky, food, culture, mexico, art gallery, sugar skulls

altar, day of the dead, mariana magdaleno, coyote, oxo tower, south bank, london, celebrations, mexican holiday, dis de los muertos, remembering the dead, events in london, american in london, the lady's guide to adventure, spooky, food, culture, mexico, art gallery, sugar skulls

altar, day of the dead, oxo tower, south bank, london, celebrations, mexican holiday, dis de los muertos, remembering the dead, events in london, american in london, the lady's guide to adventure, spooky, food, culture, mexico, staircases, long way up, art gallery, sugar skulls

altar, day of the dead, oxo tower, south bank, london, celebrations, mexican holiday, dis de los muertos, remembering the dead, events in london, american in london, the lady's guide to adventure, spooky, food, culture, mexico, art gallery, sugar skulls

altar, day of the dead, oxo tower, south bank, london, celebrations, mexican holiday, dis de los muertos, remembering the dead, events in london, american in london, the lady's guide to adventure, spooky, food, culture, mexico, art gallery, sugar skulls

altar, day of the dead, oxo tower, south bank, london, celebrations, mexican holiday, dis de los muertos, remembering the dead, events in london, american in london, the lady's guide to adventure, spooky, food, culture, mexico, art gallery, sugar skulls

altar, day of the dead, oxo tower, south bank, london, celebrations, mexican holiday, dis de los muertos, remembering the dead, events in london, american in london, the lady's guide to adventure, spooky, food, culture, mexico, art gallery, sugar skulls

altar, day of the dead, oxo tower, south bank, london, celebrations, mexican holiday, dis de los muertos, remembering the dead, events in london, american in london, the lady's guide to adventure, spooky, food, culture, mexico, art gallery, sugar skulls

altar, day of the dead, oxo tower, south bank, london, celebrations, mexican holiday, dis de los muertos, remembering the dead, events in london, american in london, the lady's guide to adventure, spooky, food, culture, mexico, art gallery, sugar skulls

altar, day of the dead, oxo tower, south bank, london, celebrations, mexican holiday, dis de los muertos, remembering the dead, events in london, american in london, the lady's guide to adventure, spooky, food, culture, mexico, art gallery, sugar skulls

altar, day of the dead, oxo tower, south bank, london, celebrations, mexican holiday, dis de los muertos, remembering the dead, events in london, american in london, the lady's guide to adventure, spooky, food, culture, mexico, art gallery, sugar skulls

altar, day of the dead, oxo tower, south bank, london, celebrations, mexican holiday, dis de los muertos, remembering the dead, events in london, american in london, the lady's guide to adventure, spooky, food, culture, mexico, art gallery, sugar skulls

altar, day of the dead, oxo tower, south bank, london, celebrations, mexican holiday, dis de los muertos, remembering the dead, events in london, american in london, the lady's guide to adventure, spooky, food, culture, mexico, art gallery, sugar skulls

london is magical.

there are so many wonderful things going on in this city, every single day.

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