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Rare Screening: Charles and Ray Eames' 1957 Documentary On The Day of the Dead Festival

In honor of Dia de los Muertos, The Creators Project teams up with Eames Designs to bring you this fascinating short.

by Laura Feinstein
Nov 1 2013, 10:02pm

Day of the Dead by Charles and Ray Eames, © Eames Office LLC

The gold standard for both artistic partnership and happy marriages everywhere, designers Charles and Ray Eames exemplfied creative collaboration. Working on a range of projects, from architecture to furniture, to film and photography, there's no medium the duo didn't attack with imagination and inventiveness. We were thrilled when the Eames Office agreed to let us screen, in full, one of our all time favorite projects: the stylish and ground-breaking documentary on Mexico's celebration of the muerto Day of the Dead (see above).

Taking place October 31-November 2, this massive holiday is actually a celebration of life rather than a day of mourning, and traditionally includes the building of private altars called ofrendas that pay homage to the deceased through painted sculptures, sugar skulls, marigolds and other vibrant blossoms. Other offerings include the favorite foods and beverages of the departed. This holiday also involves visiting graves with gifts, and in many cases, even turning graveyards into massive parties filled with music and performances.

Watch above as the Eames capture on film some of the traditions behind DOTD, and demonstrate in vivid detail why it's such an interesting festival both culturally and aesthetically.

By preparing the desceased's favorite dishes, the living hope to lure their souls back, guiding them through the afterlife to the festivities.

Above, a typical ofrendas alter.

"The sugar skulls are for the children, who by eating them show they are a campadre of Death." Day of the Dead (1957)

The Eames Office is dedicated to communicating, preserving, and extending the work of Charles and Ray Eames. Other participating organizations include the Eames Foundation, Eames Primer, and the Eames Gallery.

 "We believe that all of Charles and Ray’s work was the result of a way of looking at the world—a design philosophy and process that is worth sharing in many different dimensions," says Lucia Eames of the organization. "We also believe that creating wholly new works is as consistent with that philosophy as restoring and distributing classic ones."

You can learn more about the work of Charles and Ray Eames here. All images courtesy of the Eames Office and Foundation.