On January 16, 1951, I lost someone I never knew about. The reason was because my family never spoke of her. Her name was Marguerite Martinez and she was my father’s aunt. She was twenty-one years old and in the prime of her life when she died.
Sixty-five years later, why am I speaking about my Aunt Marguerite? It started when my Father and I drove over the 6th Street Bridge in Downtown L.A. and I told him how the city is planning to destroy the bridge because it’s rotting and they’re placing it with a newer version of itself. He responded with the story about my Aunt Marge, as my father called her, and how she died on this bridge back in 1951.
I was in total shock because I never would have imagined having any connection to a tragedy like this. My father continued on about how the family was so devastated by the tragic event, no one mentioned her again, until now. A Los Angeles Times article described how my Aunt Marguerite was killed:
“when she was hurled through the windshield of an automobile, over the edge of a bridge parapet…, her body struck a concrete roadway 50 feet below the 6th Street bridge…”
—Los Angeles Times, January 16, 1951, pg. 28.
After reading the article and the conversation with my Father, I was overwhelmed by an uncanny connection to the bridge. As I walked on it, I felt its suffering, its sense of longing. I knew I should create something that could possibly help my family remember my aunt, but also pay respects to a historical landmark.
In February 2016, the 6th Street Bridge will start its demolition and the city will lose a part of itself. But mostly importantly, my family will lose the last place our aunt was still alive. I thought, what if I help my aunt’s spirit move on from the bridge through a public performance. I would become a modern day ghost of my Aunt, haunting the bridge, evoking her spirit and helping her to ascend to the other side.
In this performance, I will walk, starting from the bridge parapet, placing twenty-one white roses on the ground until I end up at the start of the bridge. But before the journey ends, I will light a white candle and pay my respects.
“My Aunt Marge 2016” by Christopher Anthony Velasco is the first featured piece in the new Entropy series titled, Citizen Cartographer: Autopsies of the Self and the City. The series is inspired by Walter Benjamin’s concept of the bio-map, an embodied mapping of the self in the subjectively experienced city that weaves memory and movement over the ever-changing topography of an urban space.
*The artist would like to especially thank Jeremy Triggs, for helping him find the clothing from his Aunt Marge’s era and for assisting in capturing these beautiful shots.
Christopher Anthony Velasco is a mixed-media artist working in Los Angeles. His photography and collage pieces explore the urban landscape, public and private space, and questions of identity. Velasco received his bachelor of fine arts in photography and media from California Institute of the Arts in 2010, and he has studied at Art Center College of Design and East Los Angeles College.