The otherworldly creatures of “Los Panzudos Mercedarios” become part of everyday life in Diego Moreno’s surreal series “In My Mind There is Never Silence.” Moreno’s captivating project will be released as a photo book in 2019.
The protagonists of the Mexican artist’s photostories are the “Panzudos.” Once a year, in September, these mystical beasts flood the streets of La Merced in San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, México, to celebrate the feast of the Virgin of Mercy and purify themselves of their sins. The more sins they have to expiate, the more grotesque and elaborate their attires are.
Although the ‘Panzudos Mercedarios’ are not real people, according to Diego Moreno, “they provide a framework for understanding the human condition,” allowing him “to reveal secret truths and reflect upon all misunderstood and marginal things.”
The project became a vessel for the young photographer to pay tribute to his dear great aunt that died of an autoimmune disease called “scleroderma.” Because of her “undesirable” appearance, the woman was treated as a pariah by family and friends. “She was born this way, which led some to believe that she was paying the price for some past family sin,” the Chiapan photographer shared in an interview with The Culture Trip.
“The Panzudos Mercedarios take part in a kind of ritual dance, with each Panzudo symbolizing sin. Naturally, this reminded me of both my aunt and me, as I was also to some extent at odds with my family, an outcast.”