Sunday, September 5, 2010

rooms and death

I was looking through the book reGeneration: 50 Photographers of Tomorrow recently and was struck by a series of photographs People Who Died Alone 2003 by Mieke Van de Voort.

Undertaken in collaboration with Amsterdam social services, the photographs show the interiors of apartments as they were found by social workers researching the identity of people who had died without any known friends or relations.

I am thinking about why I find the photographs so powerful.

At first it is the rooms themselves and what they reveal and hint at or hide, a kind of voyeurism, looking for clues, reading objects - about order, disorder, collections, rituals, routines, beliefs, history, memory, memorabilia, the physical, obsessions, compulsions, possessions, structures, the outer shell, our 'living rooms', the unfinished, the hidden or forgotten stories...

and through the objects the strong presence of the absent person - the missing life, anonymity, being invisible, isolation, the spiritual, the inner life, the finished life...

and the presence of death - the room as shrine, funerary objects, mementoes, the past - as if by looking hard enough you can see how it announces itself, see it coming for you...

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