︎︎︎ Return

Las Visiones is a short piece commissioned by Magnum Photos about Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Puente Genil, Spain, made during the four days when the procession is led by the town's children.

Since my previous work, Subida al cielo, I developed an interest in making and photographing masks and costumes in relation to ideas of spirituality and transcendence. Two images in the Magnum archive first triggered my interest, one by Cristina Garcia Rodero in 1990, another by Josef Koudelka in 1975. In both appear children carrying the Virgin Mary and wearing eerie masks in a religious or folkloric celebration in the town of Puente Genil. I decided to trace back the event in 2019.

Puente Genil is an industrial town located in the south of the Cordobese countryside, and lies in the geographical center of Andalucia. Every Easter hundreds of biblical figures appear in the streets, representing characters of the Old and New Testaments -in costume and masks (rostrillos) are the apostles, evangelists, prophets, sibyls, Jews and Roman soldiers. The week after the official Semana Santa, there follows Semana Santa chiquita, for the children of Puente Genil so that they might continue this tradition with the same passion as their forebears. The celebration has been taking place since the mid-17th Century, however, the Catholic Church has always viewed with some regret these manifestations of popular religiosity, which grew beyond its control, perhaps existing in looser and more celebratory realms than the authorities might have wished.

The series belongs to an ongoing photographic study of my homeland and the functions that religious and mythological manifestations have in our identity.

“Do ye complain” says he, “of sudden death?” that have carried death about ye, ever since you were born; that have been entertained with daily spectacles of carcasses and funerals; that have heard so many sermons upon the subject; and read so many good books upon the frailty of life and the certainty of death. Do ye not know that every moment ye live brings ye nearer to your end? Your clothes wear out, your woods and your houses decay, and yet ye look that your bodies should be immortal. What are the common accidents and diseases of life, but so many warnings to provide yourself for a remove? Ye have death at the table, in your daily food and nourishment; for your life is maintained by the death of other creatures. And you have the lively picture of it, every night for your bedfellow.

                                                                                   Fragment of The Sixth Vision of Hell,
                                                                    from The Visions, 1927. Francisco de Quevedo

Full piece