After life there is death. Existence is replaced by nonexistence.
You can’t take pictures of nonexistence. But as long as an organism, as mere material, still exists, it leaves traces in the photographic process.
Joel Peter Witkin,
interrupted reading, 1999
Joel Peter Witkin is neither occupied with life, nor with death.
He is using corpses, to build images, and to quote images from art history. Here he refers to the salon photography of the 19.th century with its theatrical staging. He refers to photographs which themselfes were copying the air of paintings, made to represent the status of a newly developed bourgeois class. I haven’t looked at Witkins images for a long time now. I got fed up with them, for their aftertaste always is the same: an overkill of artistically arranged corpses.
Contrary to Witkin the following artists actually deal with death as the end of life. And that is what I was looking for.
from the series “Totengesichter.”
Rudolf Schäfer portrays the dead, almost as if they would still be alive. He is referring to that what was and isn’t anymore, he is referring to life. He is sparing us, and maybe himself and translates this word ”dying” in “gently slipped away.”
Ludmilla Steckenberg tries to express the amazement of the still living about the disappearance of their passed away relatives. Yesterday he still was around, yesterday she still was around, now disappeared never to come back.
Death is only a problem for those still alive.