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Trevor Snapp August 6, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Mexico.

Sante Muerte Celebration. Mexico City 2009

Trevor Snapp (b.1980, United States) is committed to long term projects and experimentation in his work. He has been photographing in East Africa, focusing on South Sudan since 2009. His photographs have been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, Time, National Geographic Traveler, BBC, and Stern. With a degree in Anthropology and African Studies his photo stories strive to explain and explore the deeper issues behind the headlines. He has devoted much of the last three years covering the birth of South Sudan and the regional repercussions. Along with the journalist Alan Boswell, he is partnering with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting to produce an iPad book called Milk and Blood: The Making of South Sudan. His photos were exhibited at the Lumix Young Photojournalism festival in Germany in June 2012. Trevor is represented by Corbis

About the Photograph:

“This photo is from an ongoing story about a monthly gathering in Tipito that attracts devotees from across the city. Tipito is an infamously violent market neighborhood in the center of Mexico city. During the celebration of Santa Muerte the streets are peaceful as people gather to bless each others statues. They trade trinkets and candy, cigar smoke and perfumes sprays before returning home to their daily lives. Sante Muerte is a rapidly growing cult in Mexico. Devotees worship statues of Sante Muerte (translated as Holy Death or Saint Death). The Saint is a religious figure combining traditional Mexican day of the dead celebrations with Catholic saints and pop culture ideas of death, particularly horror films.”

“Once only criminals and prostitutes worshiped the saint, but it is expanding among the disenfranchised poor of Mexico. The rampant drug violence has only fueled the growth as people turn to Santa Muerte for love, protection and luck. Many people pray to this figure for miracles. Santa Muerte is especially popular among young people who don’t feel connected to the traditions of the church, but continue to desire a spiritual life. Santa Muerta is also an important Saint for the violent narco culture. The rapid growth of the cult is challenging the Catholic powers that have long ruled this country. What is so interesting about the event is that it changes every month as the devotees literally make up a religion. One month everyone is giving each other apples, the next month, people will gather to serenade Saint Death with a Mariachi band. I plan to continue following this story for several years documenting this uniquely organic religion that captures many of the largest issues that Mexico is dealing with toda.”