Mexico’s annual Day Of The Dead celebrations are no longer confined to the Latin American country.
Around the world people have taken to making floats with skulls and bones and costumes and parading them on November 1 and November 2, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, to remember friends and family who have passed away.
Indeed, Phil Taylor had little idea of the festival’s importance when he took a three-month sabbatical from teaching to make a pilgrimage to Tucson, Arizona.
He had gone to see the landscape that inspired his favourite novel, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.
“The book is so fascinating because it debunks the whole ideology of west and all that nobility. It is unredemptive and an honest, hard book. It is what in reality it would have been like. There is nothing ideologically beautiful about the wild west – it is mainly just desert.”
But his visit last year timed with the Day Of The Dead celebrations, which Arizona’s Hispanic population marks with all the fervour, colour and passion of their Mexican cousins over the border. The amateur photographer had his 35mm camera to hand.
“I think the main thing is the vibrancy, and that the day is absolutely interwoven into Mexican culture because they have such a different approach to death.”
He took shots of the parade but the show’s highlight is a giant calavera (skull), which was on wheels and parked in a lot ready to be pulled through town.
“It was interesting the day I took that because it was not in the procession but parked in a vacant lot. It looked so iconic and amazing in that neutral enviroment. And of course in Arizona the images of skulls are quite normal.
“To me they look quite striking and are not something you see in our culture, so the images in the exhibition are evocative of that.”
Taylor refuses to digitally enhance his pictures and once he had compiled the pictures he was invited to show them in Tucson’s Sunset Studio.
The collection features shots from the carnival and pictures of curious and everyday objects from the lives of the dead.
- Dia De Los Muertos is at Brighton Media Centre Gallery, Middle Street, Brighton, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, Saturday, 11am to 5pm, Sunday, 11am to 4pm. Until November 18