Manhattan. During the epidemic these downtown cemeteries quickly became overpopulated, and nearby residents feared contamination due to the close proximity of the deceased. This led to the creation of the Rural Cemetery Act of 1852, which allocated undeveloped land in Queens to isolate the dead from the densely populated borough. Inevitably, a large majority of the lower class could not afford to relocate their loved ones, and eventually, their bodies literally became the foundation of multi-million dollar real estate developments, public schools, swimming pools, and parks. Little evidence of these cemeteries remains beyond city maps drawn in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Utilizing both historic and present-day maps allows these two different time periods to be in conversation with each other. Exploring the relationship of what home meant to both the living and the dead guided me to photograph the underfunded cemeteries in Queens. Observing the vast amount of decaying tombstones taught me that dying is not finite. A real death is being forgotten. Documenting these headstones digitally and printing through a 19th-century wet plate process onto ruby red glass allowed me to make use of photographic mediums separated by two centuries. Presenting these glass plates in a reliquary fashion immortalizes the fragile state and inevitable future of burial sites in major cities.

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email: nkrbarrera@yahoo.com
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