On the memory of clothes, and photographs as premonitions

I believe clothes carry memories embedded in the fabric, and photographs can carry premonitions.

Lately, when I do serious photo-shoots, they become more of a performance than just pictures, and what I mean by this, is that it feels as if there were messages hidden in between; we usually plan very little, things and brands just happen, but in time I understand the meaning of the images we create.

When a story needs to be told, it almost seems as if the universe conspires to comunicate it.

The first time I gave myself truly to the lense was with Celia, right after the hurricane… and the earthquake. I was wearing a paliacate dress made by Pompi Garcia. I received it one day before the earthquake and had no idea when I was going to wear it. Paliacate is a fabric that is often used by rescuers in Mexico; they wear it in their heads to keep the sweat away. Then the earthquake happened, the significance of this dress changed forever. After almost a year without wearing it, yesterday I wore it again for a project on Latin America, and then I heard about this massive tragedy happening in Guatemala after the volcano eruption. This is probably the biggest tragedy that has happened in Latin America, (nature driven), after the Earthquake in Mexico last year.

And the dress was there with me once more, almost as if it wanted to tell me something.

Clothes have memories.

some months ago, I was actually surprised and even scared, when a photoshoot I did with Celia, where I was lying under a bridge in a death-like pose, surrounded by flowers, was sent to me by her one hour before a bridge collapsed in Miami killing 6 people. I couldn’t believe it. I never take pictures under bridges, and I received them that specific day…

journey of a braid Celia d luna bridge

danie gomez ortigoza journey of a braid miami fashion journalist
‘Under the Bridge’ by Celia D Luna

I think that ideas and insights into the future are up in the air, sometimes you are able to grab them, and more often than not, the noise around you doesn’t allow you to listen.

There is this one picture that has never left my mind: I’m six years old, with my sister and my grandfather playing in a virgin beach in Mexico; a strange red light is coming from my grandfather’s belly and into the sky.

on photographs as premonitions danie gomez ortigoza
My grandfather, me and my sister

One second after the picture was taken — in film, obviously, so we couldn’t see it until they were printed a couple of weeks after — my grandfather went for a swim. We never understood what caused the red light. Was it a sign of his fate?

It was the last time I ever touched his hand. He died of a heart attack a couple of minutes later. The image of his body floating in the ocean, and our incapacity to save him, still wakes me up at night.

So perhaps some pictures are premonitions. Perhaps it’s only a coincidence.

Whatever it is, I believe there is so much we don’t understand in relation to the dynamics of this life. For me, the silent dialogue I have with the lens has become a form of liberation.

I’m concerned for the months ahead. Knowing that hurricane season is here is terrifying. I’m concerned for the health of our planet.

May we all stand united against adversity, and realize we are one. May the paliacate dress, become just a dress, and not a request for help at the expense of human lives.

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