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. Photographer Walter Schels and journalist Beate Lakotta asked terminally ill people if they could accompany them during their last weeks and days. This exhibition explores the experiences, hopes and fears of the dying, and gives them one more opportunity to be heard. All of them agreed to be photographed shortly before and immediately after death. The majority of the 26 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. In preparing this exhibition, Walter Schels and Beate Lakotta spent over a year in hospices in Germany.
Our thanks are extended to all those who participated in the exhibition and their relatives.