Sarah Sudhoff - At The Hour of Death (2010-2011)

Trigger Warning for blood and gore

Heart Attack, Female, 60 years old, 2010

Seizure, Male, 25 years old, 2010

Illness, Female, 60 years old, 2010

Heart Attack, Male, 45 years old, 2010

Suicide with Shotgun, Male, 60 years old (I), 2011

Murder, Male, 40 years old (II), 2010

Suicide with Gun, Male, 40 years old (I), 2010

Suicide with Shotgun, Male, 60 years old (II), 2011

Suicide with Gun, Female, 60 years old, 2010

Murder, Male, 40 years old (III), 2011

Suicide with Gun, Male, 25 years old, 2011

Suicide with Gun, Male, 45 years old, 2011

Heart Attack, Male, 50 years old (II), 2010

Overdose, Female, 40 years old, 2010

Overdose, Female, 30 years old, 2010

Suicide with Gun, Male, 40 years old (II), 2010

Heart Attack, Male, 50 years old (I), 2010 

Murder, Male, 40 years old (I), 2010

Heart Attack, Male, 50 years old (III), 2010

Death, like birth, is part of a process. However, the processes of death are often shielded from view. Today in Western society most families leave to a complete stranger the responsibility of preparing a loved one’s body for its final resting place. Traditional mourning practices, which allowed for the creation of Victorian hair jewelry or other memento mori items, have fallen out of fashion. Now the stain of death is quickly removed and the scene is cleaned and normalized. As Phillipe Aries writes, “Society no longer observes a pause; the disappearance of an individual no longer affects its continuity”.'

At the age of seventeen, I lost a friend to suicide. While visiting his home the day after the event, I witnessed a clean-up crew steam cleaning the carpet in his bedroom. All physical traces of the past 24 hours had vanished.

These large-scale color photographs capture and fully illuminate swatches of bedding, carpet and upholstery marked with the signs of the passing of human life. The fabrics which are first removed by a trauma scene clean up crew, are relocated to a warehouse before being destroyed. I tack each swatch to the wall and use the crew’s floodlights to illuminate the scene. The images are my attempt to slow the moments before and after death into a single frame, to allow what is generally invisible to become visible, and to engage with a process from which we have become disconnected.


Sarah Sudhoff
with thanks to likeafieldmouse