Hoja Santa

HOJA SANTA (2017 - 2020)

PHOTOGRAPHIC PROJECT by Maciejka Alicja Art

Hoja Santa is a herb largely used in traditional medicine and kitchen in Costa Chica****, Oaxaca.

I met Juliana on a dinner in a friend’s house in Oaxaca city and we decided to collaborate on a project about women in the costa chica, in her afro community . I had been visiting Juliana and her daughter and living with her family for more then a year, in Jose Maria Morelos. I have learned about local tradition and all the aspects of the women society in such a difficult and isolated area of Mexico . I met local healers and midwifes, but also “queridas” ( mistresses) , abandoned women, widows, single mothers or mothers of many children . The initial project about women became my own journey, like the shadow line , into the origin , the womb , and back . I found many parallels with my own life and female relationships and suffering , as long as features of feminism and proudness, submerging myself in the essence of motherhood and womanhood , with it’s shadows and limitations in all it’s aspects - into the womb of mama Africa and back. Every person I met , is a character in the journey . I used mixed media collages and painted photographs to describe aspects of that spell , I can’t photograph but I can feel . The project is still ongoing after 3 years and quiet wide . It has various layers of reading , through the anthropologic tale about the afro Mexican villages, the syncretism of the catholic and afro culture; its’ women who are tough workers and support the local society , and who also live quiet separated from man due to the history of violence of the place ; the traditional medicine and healing technique such as “espanto”(soul retrieval)*** or empacho**** “emotional digestion healing” for example Currently the projects is being in the process of transformation into a book, with the Mexican editorial from Cdmx , Hydra + Fotografia .