‘There on heaven’s doorsill’

A visual exploration of a space where mythology, customs and rituals merge towards a sense of timelessness, closure and continuity across generations through our shared human condition.

‘There on heaven’s doorsill’ is a personal project I made in Romania around the time my maternal grandmother passed away. Fifty years before her death, Grandma had already made preparations for her burial and loved to talk about it every time I visited her. Having lived her entire life in a village where rituals commemorating the departed were commonplace, she was a deeply religious woman who found comfort in the thought of being reunited with her late husband in afterlife. Our conversations made me reflect to my own beliefs and prompted me to research the themes of paradise and afterlife in Romanian mythology, folk tales, and traditions.

The impossibility to escape human condition is described in the tale of “Youth Without Age and Life Without Death”, where a young prince sets off for a quest for eternal life. When he finally reaches the paradisiac land of immortality, driven by nostalgia, he cannot help but go to a place which was forbidden to him, a transgression which will finally lead to him becoming a mortal again. In a folk ballad, “The Ewe Lamb”, a young shepherd is envisioning his impending death as a sacramental union with nature.

The idea of the nature being fraught with a religious value is also found in the writings of the Romanian philosopher Mircea Eliade, who stated that ‘nature is never only ‘natural’. For the believer, the supernatural shines through the natural, and nature always expresses something that transcends it. The mystery of the inexhaustible appearance of life is bound up with the rhythmical renewal of the cosmos and a deeper meaning emerges from the rhythm of vegetation : ideas of regeneration, of eternal youth, of immortality.

My photographic project explores a space where mythology, customs and rituals merge towards a sense of timelessness, closure and continuity across generations through our shared human condition. Navigating the elusive boundary between the real and imaginary, the images accommodate the promise of the Paradise.

Just as she honoured the memory of her loved ones, Grandma wanted to be remembered.

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