Lacrimosa, a movement in the requiem mass, derives from the Latin word for weeping, lacrimatio. The photographs in Lacrimosa were taken during a two-month sojourn in the 11th-century Italian village of Montottone, where Sara Angelucci’s family lived for generations. Angelucci was inspired to photograph the ceramic memorial portraits as they were lit at night by small electric bulbs—keeping vigil in the darkness. As she writes, “I was struck by how it glowed like a small city; as the village went to sleep, the cemetery came awake.” The tradition of ceramic grave portraits still thrives in Italy, as in many other countries. Angelucci also photographed village elders holding their most precious images, often dating from pre- and post-war rural life.
The images in Lacrimosa celebrate photographs in their vernacular form as they play a key role in ritualizing grief and remembrance, and in creating a link between the living and the dead for generations to come. A tribute to the emotional power of the medium, Lacrimosa also demonstrates the truth of McLuhan’s notion that “photography has the ability to turn all human artifacts into art.”
Generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council.