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Daniela Castillejos

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Daniela Castillejos is a 28-year-old little tree who grew a passion for the 500-year-old ahuehuetes in Chapultepec, trees who are our grandparents. In 1969, one of them, called “El Sargento” (The Sargent), died in front of the Tribuna Monumental (Monumental Platform) and the Fuente de la Templanza (Fountain of Temperance), behind the Chapultepec Castle. Maximilian and Charlotte welcomed it into tree heaven. “One of our most cherished memories, in spite of the Mexican tragedy, is the trees of Chapultepec”, they told Daniela and she took out her camera and photographed them day and night until she assembled a forest which now carries itself in her photos through the streets of Mexico. Octavio Paz called the ahuehuetes “sabinos” and he used to go for a walk on the Calzada de los Poetas (Road of Poets).

Trees contain time; their rings, just like those of Saturn, tell us a story about their hours, days, and years. When Daniela gets married, she will be given a tree ring, carved on the bark of a Chapultepec ahuehuete and within it she will recognize her ancestors.

At the age of 6, Daniela traveled to Europe. She watched her mother take photos of streets and pine trees, and perhaps it was then when her relationship with trees and contact with plants began: trees and plants, those living beings that poor Mexicans hang in Mobil Oil cans from their windows. At the age of 15, her grandmother gave her a trip to India and in that moment she took photos with her enormous Sony Mavica camera. Then she used a digital Nikon. Now she has a Hasselblad film camera just like the one Mariana Yampolsky had, and she has become a photographer of trees that wave their manes in the clouds. Ansel Adams is her idol and she would like to capture light just like Rembrandt and Turner did.

From her grandmother, Adelita Salazar, a defender of free unions, who was imprisoned for two years in Santa Martha Acatitla for joining the 1968 Student Movement which ended in the massacre of Tlatelolco, Daniela inherited the strong wood of big trees. Her heart sings inside the bark, it emerges above the fog and gives us this series of magnificent photos, which remind us that the earth is beautiful and that life deserves to be lived. 

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