The Metamorphosis of Death & KissedThursday, October 30, 2014
In the early 50s after my family had moved to Mexico City I was sent to the American School in Tacubaya, a poor section of the city where enterprising entrepreneurs had built the huge elementary and high school on cheap land. I was picked up by the orange Colegio Americano bus. We lived in a semi-posh area called Las Lomas de Chapultepec on a street called Sierra Madre. On the way to the school the bus passed by the wall of a huge cemetery called Panteón Dolores. I have to admit here with disappointment that I was never curious enough to explore it from the inside. I can remember the moss growing on the walls and the sphagnum moss hanging from the trees in the cemetery. Here and there from my window I could spy angels and crosses. Alas in all my subsequent trips to Mexico I have never remembered to go and take pictures.
As beautiful as Vancouver is it is poor in interesting cemeteries. The policy in those after-life establishments is to manicure the lawns with a ride-on lawnmower. Large memorials are thus frowned on. But the cemetery on 41st Avenue did serve me well once.
In 1997 I went to see a Lynne Stopkewich film, Kissed based on Barbara Gowdy’s We So Seldom Look On Love with the then Globe & Mail arts critic, Christopher Dafoe. In the film the little girl (before she becomes the luminous Molly Parker) buries little dead animals in her garden. She uses a blue box, the ones in which Birks jewellery stores wrap their gifts. Because Stopkewich had a smallish budget she could not pay for permission to use the box in her film with the Birks logo showings. Instead she herself drew on paper a flower and stuck it on the box. As soon as I saw the little girl burying the little birds and squirrels with lots of ceremony I knew how I was going to illustrate the article that Dafoe was going to write.
I photographed both Stopkewich and Parker in their hotel room. Stopkewich drew a flower on paper for me. When I photographed Parker, she became for me the only other woman, besides Charlotte Rampling I would readily dump my Rosemary for.
In the series of pictures here you will see the metamorphosis of the shot. I am including a colour one as in the Metropolitan Edition (Toronto) of the Globe & Mail they ran the colour version. For the photograph I used a Mamiya RB-67 Pro-SD with a 140mm Macro Floating Element lens. The b+w film was Ilford FP-4 Plus and the colour slide film was Ektachrome 100 SW.