CARLOS DETRES
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THE SAFFRON SCOURGE

Status: Ongoing
About: 

With his new photography project, The Saffron Scourge, he takes his audience through a time when yellow fever wreaked havoc on the city for over a century. Inspired during a visit to Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District when Carlos saw a crypt with the names of three children from the same family who died within a few years of each other. “I wondered how their parents could have dealt with such a catastrophic loss.” [MAKE THIS LAST SENTENCE STRONGER]

He has visited numerous sites throughout southeast Louisiana with a local archaeologist for an intimate glimpse of life inside former quarantine camps. Although the foundations of these isolated locations have long since eroded or have been destroyed by storms, there is still evidence of life and death at these camps. The image that is forever seared in Carlos’s mind is that of a small, leather shoe belonging to a young patient that was found at the remains of a trash heap. It was this haunting vision that caused the promulgation of months of research and sketches. 

Many of these pieces were based on actual illustrations, photographs and accounts recorded and made during the yellow fever epidemics. 

***“The Anxiety of Love” has previously was awarded by the publication, The Coffin Factory (now called Tweed’s Magazine) in their photography publication and has also been published by Musee Magazine. “In Memory of My Children, New Orleans 1849”, along with “The Anxiety of Love,” were co-exhibited in a group collection at A. Smith Gallery of Johnson City, Texas, the former photograph of which won the Director's Award.

STATUS: ONGOING
ABOUT:

The Saffron Scourge is a reinterpretation of the era of New Orleans when the city was

yellow fever wreaked havoc on the city for over a century. Inspired during a visit to Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District when Carlos saw a crypt with the names of three children from the same family who died within a few years of each other. 

He has visited numerous sites throughout southeast Louisiana with a local archaeologist for an intimate glimpse of life inside former quarantine camps. Although the foundations of these isolated locations have long since eroded or have been destroyed by storms, there is still evidence of life and death at these camps. The image that is forever seared in Carlos’s mind is that of a small, leather shoe belonging to a young patient that was found at the remains of a trash heap. It was this haunting vision that caused the promulgation of months of research and sketches. 

According to the author of Yellow Fever (1898), by Dr. Just Touatre, he described victim’s of the disease going into hallucinatory states prior to death, which was a starting point for the magical, dreamlike quality of this collection. What did they see in the minutes to hours before death? In an imagined post-life existence, how did the ghosts of these victims reconcile their memories with what had happened to them? These questions jumpstarted Detres’s approach to the The Saffron Scourge. An imprint of a soul’s existence in the realms of the living and the dead allowed an imagined documentation of their suffering. It’s that thin veil of existence where this story lives.

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