For the series Behind Death’s Door I visited the houses of elderly people recently passed away, documenting
the traces of life that either became visible or were removed during the clearing out of their homes. I went along
with a little company that clears out homes when a deceased person has no family, or if the family isn’t able
or doesn’t want to do it. Every last bit of the deceased’s personality disappears in a box, either to go to a
second-hand shop, or to an antique store, or it gets thrown away. Every morning starts before 8 ‘o clock and
in just a few hours the house is totally emptied and after a paintjob and a new floor, ready for the next person.
If I saw something I wanted to capture, I had to do it immediately, because if I went into another room
and came back a couple minutes later, the movers would have already taken the subject of my photo away.
I wanted to show both the little traces of personal stuff and the years of living that gave the house character,
as well as the anonymity that struck me when everything got packed, showing that death is the one
inevitability in life for all of us.
The first few times I visited the houses a feeling of discomfort arose, because I felt I was entering a sacred place.
It’s weird to step into a very personal home that almost talks to you and tells you that there happened
something sad or aweful there. I never knew the person, and that is maybe a good thing, because otherwise
my view would have been too subjective. I went to many houses to investigate Death and all it’s colors
more deeply. Now, after the feelings of discomfort and fright, I could focus on taking images that are
mostly anonymous, and I really wanted to not show any signs of the outside world, so the pictures tend
to be very oppressive and with that a little melancholic. Eventually falling into absolute oblivion is the
frightening fate of each individual. Eternity comes down to a constant movement of people who constantly die.
I also made a book of the project I also made a book (size: 10 x 15 cm., 22 pages) , which consists of 17 hidden
photos (When you flip through the book you only see anthracite grey pages, you have to flap out these pages
to see every photo. They are ‘behind doors’.), together with a couple of poems written by Kees ‘t Hart.
He is a Dutch writer who wrote these poems for people who have no family or friends who can visit
their funerals, so they don’t have to have a ‘lonely funeral’. He actually reads them out loud at the funeral,
wearing a nice suit, to give the person an honourable last goodbye.
Currently on display at:
Museum Tot Zover, Amsterdam
Behind Death's Door is a part of the groupexhibition Afterlife.
This exhibition will probably run until september 2012!