||Life Before Death
noch mal leben:
portraits of the dying
Few experiences are likely to affect us as profoundly as an
encounter with death. Yet most deaths occur almost covertly, at
one remove from our everyday lives.
Death and dying are arguably
our last taboos – the topics our society finds most difficult. We
certainly fear them more than our ancestors did. Opportunities to
learn more about them are rare indeed.
This exhibition features people whose lives are coming to an end.
It explores the experiences, hopes and fears of the terminally ill. All
of them agreed to be photographed shortly before and immediately
The majority of the subjects portrayed spent their last days in
hospices. All those who come to such places realise that their lives
are drawing to a close. They know there is not much time left to
settle their personal affairs. Yet hardly anyone here is devoid of
hope: they hope for a few more days; they hope that a dignified
death awaits them or that death will not be the end of everything.
The photographer Walter Schels and the journalist Beate Lakotta
spent over a year preparing this exhibition in hospices in northern
Germany. They made portraits of 26 people who were very close to
death. The exhibition articulates the experiences, hopes and fears of
the dying, and gives them one more opportunity to be heard.
Photographs: Walter Schels
Born in 1936, and living in Hamburg, Germany, Walter Schels is best
known for his photographic character studies.
Text: Beate Lakotta
Beate Lakotta, born in 1965, is an editor of the science section of Der
Spiegel news magazine. She lives in Hamburg, Germany.
Please write your comments about this work in our blog.
You can see and hear the authors talk about this project in an excellent 9-1/2 minute video interview.
These are the current and future exhibitions for the moment:
9 April-18 May 2008
Wellcome Collection, London
14 April-10 August 2008
17 October-17 November 2008
19 February-21 March. 2009
Fotoforum West, Innsbruck
Noch mal leben vor dem Tod
by Beate Lakotta and Walter Schels
Hardcover, 224 pages
DVA Dt.Verlags-Anstalt (September 1, 2004)
10.8 x 8.7 inches
Buy on Amazon
A beautifully printed book including many more photographs from this series is available at the moment only with a German-language text.