The business of death is the subject of Genevieve Blais’ photo essay Funeral. In the series Blais looks at how consumerism dominates our lives even after life. Using a mechanical almost step by step process she captures the funerary procedure from start to finish through an itemized set of rules. In catalog fashion she shows what is needed to accomplish the final step of life; flowers, caskets, makeup, embalming machine, credit cards and waiting room. The photos themselves look dated, perhaps on purpose pointing to the fact there really hasn’t been much advancement in the business of death.
A picture of an embalming machine with the brand name Dodge makes you wonder if the popular car company was thinking proactively when designing their product which accounts for approximately 30,000 deaths per year. Turns out there’s no relation to the two and Dodge the funeral provider has been a family business since 1893. The website advertises their formaldehyde-free products and offers seminars and even a magazine for those interested in this type of work.
In her statement, Blais says when she first embarked on the project she didn’t know what to expect but as she went along she began taking a Marxist attitude towards the whole procedure. However, death is big business and those working in that industry make a comfortable living by a simple fact of nature that is both unavoidable and inevitable.