Thursday, 18 February 2010

Funeral Home

Death is the great unifier, it has inspired poets and song writers ever since humans put pen to paper and yet we are all afraid of it. And so we should be. It is the end of our lives, the full stop and if you are like me and do not believe in the comfort blanket that is the afterlife then it is obviously not something you look forward to. I would like to think that a fear of dying is a universal feeling no matter how much you have faith in the afterlife, no one surely wants to die and leave everything behind, but is the way we think about and approach death, whether it be our own deaths or other peoples, is that universal? We do not all look at photographs of dead bodies for fun but in my experience I have met some people who do. It may just be a morbid curiosity with the macabre or maybe these people genuinely enjoy the sight of other people dead. That is essentially what I am thinking about but in a more professional line of work. People who have to deal with death and the bereavement of others on a daily basis, how do those people deal with death? How do they treat death and what are their true feelings about death and mortality. Can a person truly separate themselves away from the obvious reaction of the death of a human being? Stalin once said “One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.” It is a fair point when you think about it and worth investigating. 9/11 is a good example of that and the way we talk about it proves it. The fact we have taken this horrifying event that saw over 4000 people die in some of the most horrific ways imaginable and turned it into numbers “9/11” it is a date, a way of separating yourself from the events detail. Then you take another tragedy such as the Sarah Payne kidnapping and murder. It shook our country to its core and is a stark reminder to parents of the evil in this world.
What I am hoping to do within my time scale is to do a series of interiors of various facilities that deal with death on a regular basis, funeral homes, morgues, pathology labs, forensic labs, retirement homes, ambulances and possible operating rooms. I want to take a look at these spaces and see how they work, the personality they have, the equipment used within them and the people who work there. Are these places comfortable or are they clinical and will that represent the thoughts and feelings of the staff. Is it a job or a calling to the men and women who do these jobs? I want to find out (if possible) the personal stories of the people who work in these spaces. Do they enjoy their job? Does the constant reminder of their destiny ever creep into their thoughts while they are working? Can someone really think about science in the face of a child who has met an early end? I realise I am taking on a lot with this project and I myself do not know If I am ready to find out some of these answers. I personally am interested in a career in forensic photography and would more than likely have to deal with most of these issues in the line of duty and am I able to deal with what I will discover? In a sense I am using this project to discover something about myself which I think will be nothing but positive. I hope to reveal something about myself with this project without making it personal to me however discovering something for myself about my own mortality and gaining new perspectives on life and death.

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