Photographer Mauro Marinelli turned to polaroids to capture the cemeteries through which he found himself wandering. The nature of polaroids lends itself to glimpses rather than views, to details rather than landscapes of grief. Marinelli liked how the film softened edges and shadows, giving the grave sculptures a touch of myth.
Some of the most beautiful photographs are the most ephemeral: the shadow of an angel reaching down to the rosebud on a grave, flowers withering in closeup beside the Pieta’s wounds, the flare of the setting sun off a stone cross. In other cases, Marinelli highlights the sculptor’s art in the raise of a stone eyebrow, a kiss captured in bronze, a marble finger raised to cold stone lips.
The essay at the back of the book is lovely, too. Marinelli says he’s “crazy about cemeteries…as you might be crazy about a deep friendship, about an eccentric friend who challenges you to actually engage and have a discourse with deadly depth.” He particularly likes the gifts left behind on the graves, “all these attempts to reconnect, to communicate over the great void of overwhelming silence, over the chasm of all that was never said, of all that can never be expressed again.”
My only quibble with the book is that the statuary photographed is not identified. There is a list of cemeteries at the back of the book, but nothing that ties the images to their place or time. The book is still a work of art, but not of functional use. It’s not a major point, but I love to be able to follow in the photographer’s steps, to see for myself. I wish the cemeteries were identified in their photographs.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I received a copy of Burden of Wings for review. If you’ve read my other book reviews (there are many), you know that free books do not automatically win positive reviews. I really do admire this book.
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