Infinitas Gracias | Primary Paper

After chapters of immense turmoil, miracles become more prominent. Stories of unlikely survival and timely strokes of fortune emerge from the woodwork of a seemingly broken reality to mend our faith, and recover meanings that would otherwise be catastrophically lost.

The Mexican tradition of retablo-making is a way of collectively visualizing the divine blessings of a community. Generally painted upon small, tin sheets, retablos are votive records of saints interventions in people’s daily lives. First, there’s the painted scene of an intervention, and somewhere – floating within or framing that scene – is an accompanying text dedicated to the appropriate Saint.

Often lined up alongside each other like tiles, retablos are a powerful tool for piecing together a divine patchwork that would be hard to grasp if its stories were simply shared through word of mouth. Silvana Trevale and Daniela Benaim take a moment to salvage the miracles of London’s Latinx community in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – creating a series of staged, photographic retablos to share (and preserve) these stories.

Words Laura Cadena