Graveyard Shift This Artist's Peaceful Morgue Portraits Are Weirdly Beautiful And Fascinating  

Mick Jacobs
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While everyone eventually ends up there, most people really don't care to see the inside of a morgue unless it's on CSI. But Catherine Ertmann's photography from the morgue may just make you reconsider a visit to your local mortician. Her series, called "About Dying," captures the morgue in a way that's much less unnerving than something like Jeffrey Silverthorne's morge pictures. Though certainly graphic and lonely in their composition, Ertmann's morgue photos depict the space as a place of peace and finality. In one instance, the funeral home employees dissect a corpse, and, in the next, they comb its hair back. Despite the dark subject matter, Ertmann evokes the humanity of both the morticians and the corpses alike. What easily could have been as unsettling as Victorian death photography manages instead to look tranquil and final.

"Here the dead help the living" is a sentence inscribed in Latin in the morgue's chapel, reminding those still alive how the dead can teach them about their own mortality. In a similar way, this morgue photo series by Ertmann teaches the viewer about not only the morgue, but also how the viewer reacts to seeing something that they (or their body at least) will experience one day down the line.

Fingers That No Longer Fidget


Fingers That No Longer Fidget is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list This Artist's Peaceful Morgue Portraits Are Weirdly Beautiful And Fascinating
Photo: Catherine Ertmann/CVLT Nation

The Fires Of Cremation


The Fires Of Cremation is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list This Artist's Peaceful Morgue Portraits Are Weirdly Beautiful And Fascinating
Photo: Catherine Ertmann/CVLT Nation

A Body, Post-Autopsy


A Body, Post-Autopsy is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list This Artist's Peaceful Morgue Portraits Are Weirdly Beautiful And Fascinating
Photo: Catherine Ertmann/CVLT Nation

A Permanent Slumber


A Permanent Slumber is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list This Artist's Peaceful Morgue Portraits Are Weirdly Beautiful And Fascinating
Photo: Catherine Ertmann/CVLT Nation