20 juin 2011

Salina Cruz, a deadly hole, where nearly every white man died within a year.

Arthur Cravan

Salina Cruz, a deadly hole, where nearly every white man died within a year.

Photos by Eden von Düben
An exposition by Bastiaan van der Velden

At the Seamens Art Club

Große Elbstraße 132; 22767 Hamburg

from June 23th, 2011

opening: June 23th, 2011, 17:00

When WWI breaks out, the boxer-poet Arthur Cravan decides to leave France, to avoid draft. First Barcelona, the famous fight with former world champion Jack Johnson, than on a boat to America, together with the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, finally towards Mexico with his wife the poet Mina Loy. Cravan works as a boxing teacher in Mexico City, his last battle against Black Diamond Jim Smith in Vera Cruz is irretrievably lost, and finally he ends up in Salina Cruz, a harbour city on the west coast of Mexico.

The couple decides to travel separately to Argentina. Mina Loy, pregnant, arrives in Buenos Aires some time later. Cravan bought a boat to make the trip with a couple of other deserters, he will never arrive in Argentina. The circumstances of his disappearance in fall 1918 remain unclear – and will quickly contribute to the creation of a myth.

Around 1910 the German biologist Hans Friedrich Gadow (1855-1928) visits Mexico and Salina Cruz, he wrote: ‘Until a few years ago Salina Cruz was justly feared as a deadly hole, where nearly every white man died within a year. The “old town,” a wretched conglomeration of native huts, of palm-trees and reeds, stood on a narrow neck of low-land between the sea and an evil-smelling lagoon, surrounded by thick brushwood a fever-haunted place. [A kind of] trouble was the water supply, the only available brook, and that intermittent, passing by the cemetery, which contained by far the largest number of white men in the district.’

In the town of Salina Cruz, an English company built around 1905 a harbour, docks and other construc-tions, to facilitate the railway that transported goods from Vera Cruz to the other side of Mexico, as an alternative for the Panama Canal. During this construction works, the Salina Cruz based photo-grapher Eden von Düben made a series of photos showing the progress of the project. These are images of - most probably - the last spot Cravan saw, made some years before the boxer-poet ended up in this frontier town.

1 commentaire:

Demian Rebollo von Düben a dit…

Eden von Düben was my mother's grand father.

Is it possible to obtain more photos from him?