We have an acute fascination with death, even when we pretend we don’t, or if we believe we are immortal. My classroom overlooks a crematorium/cemetery. Some days, when the wind blows in the wrong direction, the smoke from the crematorium comes into the school and a hazy film hangs over the corridors. It was also in this very graveyard my friend and I spent hours taking photos of each other interacting with the graves.
I went to the university’s library the other day and when I entered, I went straight to the short loan section where I used to sit and spend hours going through a photography book of photos taken during autopsies. It’s fascinating how, I can spend hours looking at images of dead people, sliced open people, rotting people…but where it concerns my loved ones, I would do everything I can to prevent seeing their corpses. I deal with the theme of death a lot in my art and when I did ‘ Eyrie’ with Joop Bersee we really delved into human frailty, death etc. I never laid eyes on my stillborn and if one of my family members die, I would ask someone else to identify the body. It’s almost like being a ER doctor but not being able to put a plaster on my own family’s wounds.
Death should be beautiful, like birth.
But the pain of loss blinds the eyes.