Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Faces From Campo Verano

Photograph by Torben Eskerod

Last Saturday afternoon, John and I visited several galleries in downtown Portland. One of the most intriguing exhibitions was at the Blue Sky Gallery, a gallery devoted exclusively to showing works by new and established photographers. One entire room was filled with large-format 'portraits' taken by Danish photographer Torben Eskerod. The series, called Campo Verano after the largest cemetery in Rome, shows his photographs of the portraits affixed to grave markers at Campo Verano. Eskerod has enlarged the faces of the deceased behind the glass casings, some barely visible due to the scratched and broken glass. And yet their personalities and expressions come through with stark reality. By removing these faces from their original context, they become even more haunting—emerging like ghosts from behind the weathered, discolored, and broken glass. The purpose of these portraits behind glass is to keep alive the memory of the decreased for the living. And yet, the poignancy is that even these nonmortal structures disappear with the ravages of time.
I was completely taken by the photograph to the left. The woman's eyes stared back at me, beautiful and refined. I felt the gentle presence of one of my Polish ancestors behind those brutal cracks.

Campo Verano Exhibition by Torben Eskerod

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