Thursday, March 11, 2010

The colour of death...

I couldn't believe what I was reading about these images when I came across them. First, I was struck by the colours, they are amazing, then I read the story behind these strange objects and I was stunned. The images, as far as I could see, are all separate but I thought they would have better impact in a group and so I made a grouping of them for this blog. Read the story of these canisters below...

From 1913 to 1971 five thousand one hundred and twenty one mentally ill patients were cremated on the grounds of the Oregon State Hospital. Their remains were sealed in copper canisters. The canisters were stored in the hospital’s basement until the 1970s when they were moved to a memorial vault underground. The vault was subjected to periodic floods. In 2000 they were removed from their institutional crypt, placed on plain pine shelves in a storeroom, and were left virtually forgotten until David Masiel heard of their existence and photographed them.

They had been soldered shut with seams of lead. Leaked traces of the human remains, a mixture of phosphates, calcium (from the bones) and sulfates, with smaller percentages of potassium, sodium and chloride (the chemistry that makes up from ashes to ashes, dust to dust) combined with the corroding acid in the groundwater to form secondary mineral deposits. From the over five thousand of these unclaimed canisters, Maisel selected one hundred and ten to photograph. He worked on site, in a temporary studio using only natural light.

1 comment:

  1. oh my gosh helena ...that is truelly amazing , so poignant , thanks for sharing it :)