Where They Left — Roadside Memorials & Descansos
I found this video on youtube posted by user ‘bridgesoflosangeles’. It is a series of photographs of roadside memorials in Los Angeles, California with the song “Corre, Rio, Corre” by David Lanz in the background. I’ve come across several amateur videos featuring shrines and soothing or sorrowful music. What interested me about this one was the written blurb beneath the video:
“The Mexican tradition of the road side memorial – or “Descanso” – has spread to Los Angeles County. It is common to see these home made alters at the spot where someone died, usually in an automobile accident but for other reasons as well. They are of course sad but they are also symbols of love. For me, they are a kind of home made folk art, something assembled with a passion and power beyond the limits of the materials used. They are on a road from sadness to healing.”
‘bridgesoflosangeles’ describes spontaneous shrines as a type of folk art, stemming from the Mexican tradition of descansos. I like the fact that this video locates itself in a particular time and place. The photographs featured in the video excellently portray some of the characteristics typical of California shrines. As a native Californian, these are the types of shrines I grew up passing frequently on the roadsides. Many of them are constructed by and for Mexican Catholics and often have devotional candles for patron saints. Keep an eye out for these tall, glass candles as you watch the video!