a corner of Transylvania lies a cemetery where life and death are celebrated
in a mirthful folk-art tradition.
I find the crosses of people who have died a premature, unusual, or violent death to be the most shockingly fascinating, from both a visual and narrative perspective. The cross of a decapitated shepherd, that of a woman who died in a factory explosion, together with one honoring a schoolgirl killed by a car in front of her house, stand apart from the crosses depicting more ordinary lives lived to what locals consider their full cycle. The cemetery is a slowly changing chronicle of the history of the village and its inhabitants. What is recounted are their lives and deathsthe struggles, the happiness, and the sorrowdepicted in an irreverently humorous way. Over the years, the colors of the crosses pale and flake to many different shades, revealing the wood underneath as a metaphor of remembrance and letting go. I'm reminded of time's healing that gradually erases faces and words from memory. The colors of the newer crosses are still achingly vivid, the lines of the carvings sharp and bold, while the older ones are fading away little by little, paint peeling, carved words quieting into a whisper on the surface of the wood, taking people, stories, and art slowly into oblivion.
Excerpt from Andrea Dezsö: Not Grey Gardens published in Print Magazine 2002 December, pages 106-111 Photos by Adam Gurvitch.
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