Place of defiance

For the past weeks, I have been exploring the Kensal Green Cemetery again, capturing little moments in time on my camera.

What I feel most strongly here is the presence of all the absent people. People are everywhere, yet nobody is here. Instead, there are traces: signs, pictures, names, toys…

I am struck by the abundant use of plastic to replace the natural world. It’s like a defiance against the perishability of organic life. Yet plastic seems strangely inappropriate for this place of decomposition.

The cemetery is a place where even the tiniest movement takes on a much greater significance. I am struck by how much movement there is: of trees and leaves, blades of grass, rainbow pinwheels, all animated by the wind. Other things propelled by tiny engines: artificial butterflies, cherubs nodding their heads. All this animation in defiance of stillness.

In contrast the stone statues are frozen in their eternal poses. For this particular defiance, they too are punished by time: Most are missing hands, arms, feet, even heads. There is something rather poignant about this image of an angel without hands or lips: her agency has been taken away, just like of those that lie buried here.

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This place is full of ghosts: they are present and they are looking, empty eyed and they haunt me beyond the edges of the cemetery, all the way home and further still.

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