Heart Attack, Male, 50 years old (II), 2010
Archival inkjet print, 40" x 30"
At the Hour of Our Death
Death, like birth, is part of a process. However, the processes of death are often shielded from view. Today in Western society most families leave to a complete stranger the responsibility of preparing a loved one’s body for its final resting place. Traditional mourning practices, which allowed for the creation of Victorian hair jewelry or other memento mori items, have fallen out of fashion. Now the stain of death is quickly removed and the scene is cleaned and normalized. As Phillipe Aries writes, “Society no longer observes a pause; the disappearance of an individual no longer affects its continuity”.
At age of seventeen, I lost a friend to suicide. While visiting his home the day after the event, I witnessed a clean-up crew steam cleaning the carpet in his bedroom. All physical traces of the past 24 hours had vanished.
These large-scale color photographs capture and fully illuminate swatches of bedding, carpet and upholstery marked with the signs of the passing of human life. The fabrics which are first removed by a trauma scene clean up crew, are relocated to a warehouse before being incinerated. I tack each swatch to the wall and use the crew’s floodlights to illuminate the scene. The images are my attempt to slow the moments before and after death to a single frame, to allow what is generally invisible to become visible, and to engage with a process from which we have become disconnected.