A photographic atlas of the missions of Alta and Baja California

Transmigration = emigration, change, metempsychosis, reincarnation
Ruin = remains, rubble, vestiges, relics, spoils

A new materialization of what was: re-integrated, transformed, enriched, on its way to a greater identification with the intangible, and less with its materiality.

The original proposal for this project was a collaboration of Yaocí Pardo and myself. It departed from the notion that the California missions, originally built during colonial times, offered an opportunity to explore environments that reflected traces of the complex dynamics in our contemporary world. The idea was to explore this warp, through its various forms of expression: people, places, icons, graffiti, faces, activities, etc. Although the character of the phenomenon is primarily historical and social, my interest was centered on the less obvious, spiritual angle in the broader context of the journey of the soul, from source, through incarnations and back to source after the learning process has concluded.

I believe everyone, descendants of the Original Peoples, of European ancestry, and of the multicultural weave that occurred, share notions and values because we are all human, and that these could be investigated through a visual approach; looking for overlaps of what is common to everyone

My intention was to document them.

Opuntia (Nopal), Mission Dolores, San Francisco, California.

The process

As I began my research and realized the scope and repercussions of the religious conversion process, the idea of ​​honoring the First Nations descent, the Native American community, of “asking for permission” on an energetic level, became imperative; leading me to contact a mentor and teacher, John Malloy. He has done work helping young people, from original tribes, black or latino ancestry, find their way and voice in life. 
This led me, beyond my limited vision, to inform myself and to establish contact, in some form, with the original peoples perspective, wanting to ​​expand my understanding on this complex process.

It became clear how much pain there is around this subject. The use of violence for the sake of domination has been accepted as normal by many throughout history, particularly the ruling class, furthermore, then we have society at large, not infrequently, looking the other way. The trivialization of violence through media, movies and news that sourround us, has made us increasingly tolerant to it, an eerie reminder of the Pied Piper of Hamelin story.

There is much to be changed. Genocide has been part of the recorded history of humanity, the dark, shameful and violent aspect of it: our shadow history. It is a shame that the missions contributed, in a continued effort to eradicate indigenous culture, a process that has only accentuated with time.

The noble principles that gave birth to the gargantuan institution founded upon them, seemingly, were hijacked by powerful interests within it. These values, instilled by many avatars and sages through history (also present in Franciscan beliefs), were effaced giving way to dominance and subjugation, trademarks of colonial expansion.

I quickly realized that my thesis of exploring the overlap between the original peoples' and the missionary world, was not what I thought, and that my interest honed in exploring the change of thought forms as a vehicle for transformation, for myself, and possibly for others. I have also learned that processes have their own paths and times. I believe every conflict may offer an opportunity to see beyond the apparent separation, but for that to be a possibility, groundwork of vast depth has to be laid down, at the personal level.

I do not pretend to diminish or devaluate the challenge this process entails, at the social as well as personal levels. This ritual of reconciliation requires vast inner work, which is always arduous and demanding, and implies deep moral effort.

The Course in Miracles says: "What is not love, is a call for love".

This initiative of contact with "the other" opened a Pandora's box for me. First, it became a humbling process that lead me to explore my own values, beginning with recognizing and resolving the emotions of guilt and shame, which initially I made mine as a result of the actions of my ancestors, and then continued, to subtly condone (and perpetuate), in my every day life. And secondly, making me realize my naïveté when embarking on this project - the depth of such a wound, requires a profound level of healing. These shadows living in my psyche, revealed their true stature as I discovered, layer after layer, that the task I embarked on exceeded my abilities to address it.
"I follow you and think you are coming to your own conclusions after an exterior journey —it's right, it returns to the inner— life's too short my friend; don't struggle with the windmills —move on where your life meaning and talents ring like a clear bell for others to benefit and appreciate."
It was in this context that the health measures, implemented by the COVID 19 phenomenon, emerged, and the planetary scope of the event, inevitably, made me rethink what I was doing with my life, and, in particular, the direction of this project; I found myself in the need to change my approach, but, where to go with it? How to bring meaning to it so I could feel that I was, responsibly, hearing the call, the challenge? The answer was, by turning it into a personal search.

Two important issues became clear, one, the inability to travel and visit the California missions due to Covid 19, and, two, the conviction that my creativity should be used to help explore and understand what we have created as a civilization.

The search for a future different from the past can be always invoked. Embodying precepts many avatars and mystics throughout history have professed, is one option:
Respect for all forms of life
Not passing judgment
Love others as yourself
Forgiveness as a form of relationship
If we did this at the personal level, our reality would change; deeply accepted beliefs are what manifests physically as our experience of life.

Dec. 4 2006, Standing Rock, ND. Veterans headed by Wes Clark Jr. kneel before Leonard Crow Dog, Lakota medicine man.

Transmigration of Ruin is being developed with the generous help of the National Fund for Culture and the Arts (FONCA), an organism for the promotion of culture of the Government of Mexico.
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