Archive for the ‘mort pour le mort’ Category
My father died last Thursday. He had been through a world of pain for months, before he could finally let go. It was the proverbial old man’s friend that came to his aid for the departure. Fortunately, most of his direct family-members were present when he died. We could all participate in the postmortem care, with the loving assistance of the GP and the health workers present. He is now lying in repose with a most peaceful expression on his face. Helping to prepare his body for this proved to be rather confronting for me, because it was the first time I could closely study the gangrenous wounds on his leg in a very long time, as they had been permanently covered up with bandages and ointments . It was only when I saw the skin of his complete lower legs -black and textured like charred wood- when I realised how spot on his description had been of the excruciating pain in his legs. “It’s like they are burning my legs with a heat gun”. I can only feel contempt for the medical professionals (the “doctors”, not the nurses) who treated my father as an Alzheimer’s patient, while he was fully conscious but suffering from a maddening pain that rendered him delirious. Categorically, they refused to ease his suffering with effective pain-medication in fear of medication abuse. Although the end may have been inevitable, it could have been with less abuse, manhandling, humiliation and pain. It took a humble GP and very dedicated hospice workers to recognize this and lend some dignity to my father’s final days.
One of the most impressive projects on necrology since the collections of Samuel Burns is a new project by Elizabeth Heyert, who shot marvellous portraits of dearly departed Harlemians, which is also an ode to the arts and crafts of the American mortician. Please check the Mediamatic expo starting this Friday (http://www.mediamatic.net/page/65222/en).
Just discovered that the prices for the works of Stanley end Elisabeth Burns have been rising steadily. My interest in post mortem photography was raised by the Amenabar classic “Los Otros”, featuring a “Book of the Dead” prop that actually featured a picture of the director himself. The real source of the director’s inspiration is probably the work of the Burns’.
Above: a portrait from Claudia’s family. Second from the left is her great-grandfather at the deathbed of his aunt, somewhere in Sinaloa, late 19th century. Below left to right: a snippet from the poster, the picture of Amenabar, two images from Sleeping Beauty I (now between $ 500 and $ 1.200) and the cover of Sleeping Beauty II (somewhere in the $ 150 range).