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The Nostalgia of My Mother and the Memory of My Grandmother

Artist Blog by Alí Marín

The compelling emotional catalyst of the project En la Tierra Baja is my mother's oral memory about her town and the life of my maternal grandmother Lola, who died on February 15, 1975, prompting my mother to leave her hometown in search of economic opportunities.

My grandmother Lola died a few days before my mother turned seventeen, and I never had the chance to know her. I remember that during my childhood and adolescence, my mother told me a lot about her mother, her childhood, what the river was like in those days, and also about my great-grandfather Valentín who was a ship captain. He transported the sugar cane harvested by the sugar mills along the river during the harvest season in boats called “mules”, just as he introduced other boats from the port of Alvarado, the closest to the Gulf of Mexico, to the Papaloapan River specifically to the Tlacotalpan pier.

Years later, I am the one who seeks to understand the territory of my roots, building my own experiences, memories, and resistances. Working to understand the important, complex, and historical relationship between the Papaloapan River and Tlacotalpan, and everything that emerges from it.

This is a story that starts from a personal need and then takes on collective meaning. For me, it is like a container that contains an active memory that allows us to dialogue and reflect on the important relationship between nature, human beings, and our ancestors, as one of the pillars of identity, existential meaning and healing.

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