Thursday, May 22, 2008

Walter Schels: Life before Death

Walter Schels
Heiner Schmitz
[Life Before Death]
2003, 14 December (after)

In the nineteenth century post-mortem photography was both accepted and commonplace with the lower life expectancy making death a very real part of life. There are several excellent books on this topic including:

Ruby, Jay. (1995) Secure the Shadow: Death and Photography in America Boston: MIT Press

Burns, Stanley B. (1990) Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America Twelve Trees Press

Burns, Stanley B. & Elizabeth A.(2002). Sleeping Beauty II: Grief, Bereavement in Memorial Photography American and European Traditions Burns Archive Press

Death has become an increasingly taboo subject and the rights associated with it being passed on to funeral directors making it increasingly remote. In 2003 photographer Walter Schels and journalist Beate Lakotta commenced a project to photograph terminally ill patients both before and after death.

"We all know that we are going to die one day, but it is very difficult to believe that it will really happen to us. Our motivation for this project was to overcome our own fear of facing up to death. The project goes some way to explore this."

This is a powerful series and I'd like to thank Beate and Walter for allowing me to include it here.

Walter Schels: Life before Death

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