roadside descanso
san ildefonso pueblo.nm : 07 apr 04

photo of the week

multimedia design + production | cuyahoga productions

film : video : photo : web


The word "descanso" comes from the Spanish "to rest." It is used to refer to roadside crosses that mark the spot where someone has died suddenly and unattended, without last rites. Where you take your last breath is as sacred as where the body lies later on, and removing a descanso is an act of desecration.

This image was taken while location scouting for a film. I'd pulled over to photograph a thunderhead towering above an adobe church (barely seen in the background), and it was only afterward that I noticed the marker further down the fenceline. The triad of cross, thunderhead, and mesa made for a scene arguably weightier than the church.

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photographs by troy paff © 2004-05 : all rights reserved