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In Farewell Maria , Andres Cardona asks how does a family survive grief during a pandemic?
Maria Zinia Vargas was a chatty woman. An 89-year-old living in Puerto Vasto, an isolated town in the south of Colombia, the lady regularly spoke with members of the family across the country and beyond. “She was worried about my work, ” says her grand son, Andrés Cardona, a professional photographer who has devoted much of his career to covering violence and the legacy of the 57-year armed conflict in his nation.
“My grandma wanted to speak all the time, ” he recalls. But that changed whenever she became ill final August 2019. “My family members said she was okay, but when I asked them to pass [her the phone], we spoke for less than a minute, and he or she said ‘I am very, very tired and I don’t want to speak anymore’. The girl handed the phone to someone else. ”
Cardona still left Bogotá, where he lives, in the nervous rush. When he or she arrived, he and Vargas did what they had done countless times before: he massaged her feet whilst they swapped memories. During these moments, they often related exactly the same stories: the death of Cardona’s parents, histories of estrangement, disappearances and trip during a war that has displaced over 8 million Colombians since 1985. But this time, something was off. “[Maria] was speaking nonsense. She didn’t remember well the events that will she had told me before and that I had already documented, ” says Cardona.
Vargas was admitted to a hospital in Florencia, the province’s capital, which marked the first of many trips from one healthcare centre to another. “By the time she was put in [isolation], she couldn’t take in air or speak anymore, ” remembers Cardona. He had already been shooting photos the whole period, and began taking pictures of his grandmother from outside the unit where she remained; no one was allowed inside.
On 09 September 2021, Vargas passed away through what turned out to be Covid-19. Previously that day, she have been shown a video. The family had made her a collection of great wishes from across Colombia. Maria, “the memory” from the Vargas family, was right now gone, but life ongoing. Through his photographic collection Farewell Maria , Cardona wanted to document this moment. How does children live through grief during an outbreak?
It was a strange time. The particular photographer and a team associated with men in hazmat enhances were the only people allowed into the cemetery for Vargas’ burial. Soon after, medical staff arrived to test Cardona for Covid-19. He and five other relatives had caught the virus and were ordered to self-isolate.
Cardona spent the following weeks on its own in his flat, unable to be effective the typical rituals surrounding decline in his community. “My is very Catholic, and a fresh tradition to have a wake, as the body is in its coffin for two days while the family delivers together to say goodbye, ” he explains. Instead, Cardona organised a virtual “novenario”: nine days of mourning to praying via Zoom. “She was the person that would make 48 of us meet, ” he says, so in her complete, they had to continue getting each and every other. “This has united the company. ”
The family burned each one of Vargas’ belongings at the woman request. But it was challenging part ways with accessories that carried so much interpretation for her. Cardona says Vargas was like his mother. “She was the pillar of the wife and children. ” In 1993, is often a military killed his couples, Vargas took in the boy, his brother and a variety of cousins. “People say that these people didn’t kill her whom day because we were generally there with her, ” he answers.
Cardona’s work is an working out in memory. From Colombia’s armed conflict to the culture of indigenous communities or the deforestation of the Amazon, ones images document the present time hoping to make sense of the following.
The documentary photographer Leslie Meiselas, who is best known to gain documenting the turmoil within Central America in the 1970s and as a consequence 80s, helped edit all the series. As did Yael Martínez, whose work details violence in his native South america.
Goodbye Maria is also a glimpse under how the pandemic has open for use in the Colombian Amazon. Inside of the southern jungle, large brooks, countless canyons, caves together with waterfalls surround Puerto Forrado. People there spend a lot for an extended time outside together. But when usually the pandemic struck, the companiable fabric disintegrated. “The one that went out into the street was like a walking virus, ” Cardona says. “Everyone was initially afraid of each other. ” Trennung and poverty meant that neighbors were left to their have possession of devices. A doctor who perceived Vargas days before the woman went into hospital sent his or her home, concluding she recently had an ordinary cold.
Now the city is returning to what it was indeed before. With these photos, Cardona hopes to capture not just his or family’s story of Covid-19 but the more indistinct, nebulous experience of loss and saddness in his community. “The pandemic is just one chapter at the whole thing that I am revealing, ” he explains. “I want to tell this level beyond the data; the face. ”
The work was supported combined with produced by the Magnum Home foundation, with grants from the Holly Luce Foundation and Indigenous Geographic.