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The Weepers (Las Plañideras), Mantilla series, 2012,  ink print on fabric (sublimation)

Antonio Briceño  ( Caracas, Venezuela) 


From the Photographer:  “There is a sea made up of unfathomable waters: the sea of emotions. It is host to converging torrents, attacks, rages and intensities, which seem to be contained by the over-estimated dam of    reason. However, behind the concrete bounds of our logical life, lies an ocean that is endlessly swelling.

These waters free themselves via many different escape routes. The liberation that crying provides is much more than a form of therapy; in essence, it is a connection, an unequivocal expression    of a powerful emotion. In this sense, professional weepers have been the quintessential officiants of the merciful ritual of crying.

Nonetheless, the act of crying has been persecuted to such an extent that the very idea of a professional weeper is, in the best of cases, a cause of discomfort today. Since the beginning of    humankind up until a few decades ago, all over the world these priestesses played their liberating, cathartic role. Their tears, which were sometimes collected in lachrymatories, were then buried    next to the deceased as proof of the sadness left in his or her wake.

Now the crying has stopped and the weepers and lachrymatories have been forgotten, we have been left dry in a desert of self-inflicted exile, disconnected from our internal and external waters.    We are anesthetized in an oasis that is nothing but a mirage, pursuing headlong towards evasion, pleasure, speed and power. Our emotions are imprisoned, condemned to be ignored and never to    manifest themselves. There is no faucet for them.

However, in the remote desert of Sechura, in Peru, unquenched by water for a long time now, there are still some professional weepers along with the last tears. Although they do exist, there are    not many of them and certainly not enough for all our tragedies, our silent pain, our hurt and losses. There are not enough tears for the world’s pain, for our pain.

Yet, they continue to exist and if during the dark night of the soul you hear their sobbing, do not ask the weepers for whom they weep. You will know they weep for you.“

Antonio Briceño


Description from Celeste prize -  From the cathalogue of the exhibition, part of the text by the Curator Tomás Rodríguez:  "Professional wailers always played a vital role in relation to emotional blockages. These women, who are normally hired, are not only a vehicle to heighten the pain of grief and the ritual staging of the importance of the deceased, but also to channel relatives’ pain. Their sobbing encourages others to let their pain out by providing them with a mirror in which to see themselves. 

Contrary to what some might imagine, the wailers do not fake pain, nor do they con people with crocodile tears. Their role is closer to that of tragic actors from Ancient Greece, when tragedy was a ritual representation to pay tribute to Dionysus, who was an important god for women. Dionysus was linked to the idea of resurrection and sacred madness. In a sense, the wailers’ violent staging of pain and weeping fits with what Aristotle identified as the key elements of tragedy: mimesis (imitation) and catharsis (purification). Their empathy works as a genuine incarnation of Pathos (emotion) that they experience as their own pain, thus affecting mourners in a real sense and stimulating their grief. These women, who invariably wear black mantillas (the works magnify them on long and tremulous black shrouds), dramatize loss, turn it into something transcendental, cut through time and reveal the unalterable change that has occurred in our lives. ” via: celesteprize.com

Images via: Celesteprize and Photo Berlin

More about Antonio Briceño   Here and Here



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