These photos of the dead are purposefully anonymous. In “About Dying” Danish photographer Catherine Ertmann was aiming for the universality of death rather than the stories of these particular dead. And that’s what makes this series so moving. In photographing the dead so intimately, bare of everything, including their life stories, she has made room for the viewer in the morgue—as observer and as deceased. Who doesn’t project themselves into the sewn torso, the half-clenched hand, the freckled cheek? Will it be the zipped bag or the fiery crematorium in the end? How can we live fully if we can’t look at death?
“This project tries to break down the taboo by showing something we rarely have access to, and that death can be both hard to look an but also beautiful. Just like when a new life comes into the world when a woman is giving birth. It deals with the incomprehensible fact that life ends and hopefully remind the audience that our time here is precious and what things really matter while we are here.”
This project was approved by Aarhus Universitets Hospital (University Hospital of Aarhus, Denmark), where she and journalist Lise Hornung worked.
The only complete certainty in life is that one day we will die. It is the most certain thing in the world, and the biggest uncertainty we experience of the world, because nobody can say what will happen afterwards. Maybe that is why we find it so difficult to speak about death.