A whiff of furniture spray and tourists’ perfume in the air. Torn grey garbage bags of bones wheeling by. They’re on their way to the depósito to be cremated, says Darío, a caretaker around my age who I’ve not seen in several years. He introduces me to his father, seated on the steps of a tomb at the top of the avenue that leads to President Sarmiento and Evita. (In my notebooks I call this Evita Street, for reference.) Darío explains excitedly that I take photographs that appear to use tricks, but don’t. He looks after the tomb that houses my María – which is how we first got talking, about five years ago.
Earlier last Thursday morning, I’d discovered this Other María, also an Immaculate Mary riding on a sliver of moon. The stained glass and ‘it’s behind you’ reflection combo is how it all began. And visiting Recoleta Cemetery has always been not just about taking photographs but about chatting with the people who work there and listening to the stories they have to tell. It’s my social equivalent of working in the office when I’m in London.
As I was leaving, I met Oscar, who divulged he’s been a caretaker at Recoleta for 35 years. But I’ll save that anecdote for another time.