Pozo Almonte, 2008

Author: Jordi Colomer

33 color photographs, Lightjet runs on a silver paper, 40 x 60 cm each.

The series of thirty-three photographs that make up this work portrays a cemetery built in the middle of the Atacama desert in northern Chile. The mining industry began to develop around the Chilean nitrate deposits in the Atacama desert in 1880. When the mines closed, they left a series of ghost towns behind, except for Pozo Almonte, a town that flanks a large cemetery. The systematic framing of the photographs by Jordi Colomer enhances the appearance while underscoring the uniqueness of each building; all of them made of a variety of materials.

The funeral monuments in the middle of the desert are a testament to architecture without an architect. The heterogeneous materials, the combinations and the diversity of these constructions express a collective inventiveness that is evident despite a shortage of resources, giving rise to these aesthetically unique buildings. Here each house, despite the similarities, displays a surprising degree of inventiveness and creativity. Each house of death is uniquely imaginative, despite the scarcity of resources. The city is configured as a parallel, living city populated with little earthly homes. It is a space shared by the living and the dead, who are said to be temporarily absent. However, the decorations of the homes seems otherworldly. At the same time, these mausoleums are a testament to a culture. Prolonged visits by the deceased are part of ordinary life. The individual appropriation of architectural norms through these surprising tombs demonstrates the participation of anonymous lives in history.