At the Hour of Our Death

Video by Mark & Angela Walley, Photographs by Sarah Sudhoff

One of photography’s distinctive qualities is its ability to reveal subjects that are invisible to the eye. But carefully considered images can also make visible ideas that we find difficult to think about or discuss. Dying, for example, is an act that is frequently shielded from view, presumably to protect the living from facing fears of what happens when life ceases to be. Sarah Sudhoff’s At the Hour of Our Death, takes as its starting point writer Phillipe Aries’ observation that “death’s invisibility enhances its terror”.

Like most of her work, these pictures are inspired by personal experience. As a teenager Sudhoff lost a friend to suicide. While visiting his home after learning of the tragedy, she witnessed a clean up crew efficiently removing all physical traces of his final moments—the stuff of death we prefer to quietly avoid. Brightly illuminated and full of vibrant color, Sudhoff’s large-scale photos present swatches of bedding, carpet and upholstery marked with the signs of a passing life. Seemingly grim at first blush, the series is a fascinating and beautiful work of conceptual art. By making abstract the thing we fear most, Sudhoff brings it into stark focus.