> The Followers, 2010

The Followers takes as inspiration a burial ground located in Cuzco, Peru. In this place, as in many deprived areas of Central and South America, the tradition persists of placing the dead in raised vertical concrete structures called nichos. The nichos often resemble something akin to a hotel of still lives, all stacked up one on top of the other. They are each fronted by a space full of photos, flowers and idiosyncratic offerings carefully arranged by the deceased’s family and loved ones. The offerings, left in the belief that they will accompany the departed into the realm of the dead, result in colourful and often wildly obscure compositions. The faithful reproductions of these structures presented in the gallery become still life homages (to still life homages) to non-stationary lives. The resulting aesthetic is reminiscent of the Vanitas tradition of still life painting. The influence of the Baroque style, as well as pre-Colonial visual traditions of the Peruvian indigenous culture are also apparent, as is the aesthetic of the hybrid iconography that sprung from the amalgamation of Catholic and indigenous religion. By re-contextualising the nichos in a conceptual art framework there is an emphasis on the historicity behind these (conversely, often) joyful tombs. Like the nichos themselves the work is both a lament and a celebration of the value of human life and the rights of the individual in contemporary Peruvian society that hints towards the recent history of terrorism and violence.