Beyond Indifference

A Look at the Work of Cristopher Rogel Blanquet

by | Dec 17, 2020

A photo by Cristopher Rogel Blanquet was chosen for the digital photo exhibition, “Documenting the Impact of Covid-19 through Photography: Collective Isolation in Latin America,” curated in collaboration with ReVista and the Art, Culture, and Film program at Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS.)

The exhibition, based on an Open Call for Photography launched in July 2020, aims to create a critical visual record of our unprecedented times so they can be remembered by future generations.

This photo was selected for the digital exhibition. Without isolation for those who make the graves, Gravediggers 2. Gravediggers who work in the Xico cemetery in Valle de Chalco in the State of Mexico have dug more than 300 graves since the pandemic hit the country. They cannot isolate themselves, if they do, they do not eat. They work in fear, they know they can catch it at any time, but their salary is daily and depends on the graves they dig.

Mexico is intense; intense in living or in dying, in feeling or ignoring. I believe that all Latin America is that way, through a certain intangible but undoubtedly present brotherhood.

When Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz wrote, “The indifference of the Mexican to death is nourished by his indifference to life,” a pandemic was not galloping throught the world nor was it possible to see thousands and thousands of images of grief for losses (distant enough for health reasons) that frequently reached their maximum expression at the moment of burial.

I believe that practically none, Mexicans included, can be absolutely indifferent in the face of this catastrophe, and try as we might, there is no place to escape from it. It is difficult to be indifferent, thanks to the work of photojournalists like Cristopher Rogel Blanquet, who arouse our emotions.

Cristopher is a photojournalist with a pedigree, and he is always on the scene, feeling what is around him. In his selected image, we see a tight and devastated embrace filled with anguish, while from the distance of asepsis and the white coats, they are being watched, as the victims of the disease are being buried in the pantheon of the Chalco Valley, Mexico.

I suppose that when someone talks about the indifference in the face of death, they are talking about the death of “others,” and now, today, thanks to Cristofer’s images and his work, we realize that the death of “us” in a certain manner is the death of us all.

Más allá de la indiferencia

Mirando la obra de Cristopher Rogel Blanquet

Por Daniel Ochoa de Olza

Una foto de Cristopher Rogel Blanquet fue seleccionada para la exposición, “Documentando el impacto de Covid-19 a través de la fotografía: Aislamiento colectivo en Latinoamérica”, auspiciado por ReVista y el Art, Culture, and Film program del David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) de Harvard. 

La exposición, resultado del concurso de fotografía anunciado en Julio 2020, busca crear un registro visual de estos tiempos sin precedentes y contribuir a nuestra futura memoria histórica. La muestra procura promover una perspectiva regional del aislamiento colectivo impuesto por el Covid-19 desde América Latina y el Caribe. 


Esta foto fue seleccionada para la exhibición digital, sin aislamiento para quienes cavan las tumbas, Gravediggers 2. Los sepulteros del Cementerio Xico en el Valle de Chalco en el Estado de México han cavado mas de 300 tumbas desde el inicio de la pandemia. No pueden aislarse, y si deciden hacerlo, no tendrán que comer. Trabajan con miedo. Ellos saben que pueden contagiarse en cualquier momento, pero sus salarios se desembolsan diariamente y dependen del numero de tumbas que caven al día.

México es intenso; intenso en vivir y en morir, en sentir o en ignorar. Creo que toda Latinoamérica lo es, por cierta hermandad intangible pero sin duda presente.

Cuando el galardonado con el Premio Nobel de literatura Octavio Paz escribió `La indiferencia del mexicano ante la muerte se nutre de su indiferencia ante la vida´ no galopaba por el mundo una pandemia ni era posible ver las miles y miles de imágenes de dolor por la pérdida (tan distante por la higiénica distancia) que con frecuencia alcanza su máximo exponente en el momento de la sepultura.

No creo que casi nadie, mexicanos incluidos, seamos en absoluto indiferentes ante esta catástrofe, ni aunque quisiéramos con todas nuestras fuerzas puesto que no hay lugar al que huir. Es dificil ser indiferente gracias al trabajo de fotoperiodistas como Cristopher Rogel Blanquet, que emocionan.

Cristopher es un fotoperiodista de raza, y siempre está cerca, sintiendo. En su imagen seleccionada vemos un abrazo apretado y roto por el dolor, mientras desde la distancia de la asepsia y los trajes blancos, son mirados, enterrando víctimas de la enfermedad en en el panteón del Valle del Chalco, México.

Supongo que cuando alguien habla de la indiferencia hacia la muerte, habla de la muerte de ‘otros’ y ahora, hoy, gracias a las imágenes y al trabajo de Cris nos damos cuenta que la muerte de ‘nosotros’, es de alguna manera de todos.

Daniel Ochoa de Olza is an award-winning independent photojournalist based in Mexico City, Mexico. A native of Navarra, Spain, Daniel has been assigned to cover history-shaping events and documented people and cultures.

Daniel Ochoa de Olza es fotoperiodista residente en la Ciudad de México.

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