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Works of Jose Manuel Mayorga Saravia "Between Virtual and Real"

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Works in the exhibition "Between Virtual and Real"



Rito de paso 





In Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespearian version of Cinderella (2015) the dying king talks to his son about marriages of convenience. In due time he tells him to marry for love and not for gain. In the next act, the father dies in his bed and, ascending, the camera moves away from the scene. The dialogue between father and son shows that the stories told to us at very early age have sharp edges that we don’t completely understand; yet these engrave the tales into our memories. This intimate exchange disquiets me because it is a reminder that from infancy onwards we learn from those who are close to us about opportunism and the “right way” to behave.

The discovery of photographs of the rites of passage* of marriage from 20th  century Guatemala is the basis of  the series Consent. I did not create the photographs, I have appropriated the images by digitizing them and intervening to present them in a context separate from the arena in which they were conceived. 

The European oral tradition in  Charles Perrault´s story refers to lineage, the patrilineal transmission of privileges conceded by the Crown or forged through matrimonial alliances that make up the power elite.**

Lineage made parentage a key element in the formation of colonial society and of wealth accumulation through marriages of convenience in Latin America. This remains well maintained in our times through family networks that are long running and sophisticated social structures. These family networks evolve and interact under the protection of Family Law. 

The rites of passage are connected to pompous ceremonies. Nowadays the press celebrates Guatemala as a favorite location for destination weddings***, which require a hefty economic investment. In this situation, where might we find love? Only with difficulty does it coexist with the marriages of convenience that we have already touched upon. Perhaps love appears and disappears in the dualities of singlehood/marriage,  agreement/disagreement, union/separation, and beginning/end. In this series of photographs, alterations made to faces preserve the anonymity of those portrayed. They may be victims, they may be protagonists, or they may well be contracting parties foreign to the relationships of convenience that we have known about since childhood from the stories told to us before we fall asleep, so that we might dream about the princess, the prince, and happiness.


José Manuel Mayorga, marzo 2016 


*Arnold van Gennep

** Marta Elena Casaús, Guatemala: Linaje y Racismo  FyG Editores 2010

*** My big Guatemalan wedding


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