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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.

Mark and Angela Walley are a husband and wife filmmaking duo based in San Antonio, Texas. They have been working together as artists, musicians and filmmakers for the past eight years. In 2009 they began a collaboration with Glasstire.com, a Houston-based non-profit online arts magazine, to produce a series of documentary films on Texas-based art and artists. In 2010 they established Walley Films, an independent production company committed to collaboration and advocacy of the arts. For the past two years The Walley's have produced over twenty short documentaries following artists, non-profit arts organizations and art related events. Their collaborative films have been featured on The New York Times, The Atlantic, NPR Picture Show, and Vimeo Staff Picks.

Sarah Sudhoff is a fine-art photographer and educator based in Texas. She holds an MFA in photography from Parsons The New School for Design in New York City as well as a Bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. In 2010, Sudhoff’s ongoing series, At the Hour of Our Death debuted at De Santos Gallery in Houston, Texas during Fotofest. A short film documentary on this series was released in October on Glasstire.com. In 2011 Sudhoff was awarded the Flash Forward prize by the Magenta Foundation. Most recently she was chosen as an artist-in-residence at Artpace in San Antonio, Texas. The residency takes place in the fall of 2012 concluding with an exhibition. Sudhoff is a co-founder of the Austin Center for Photography in Austin, Texas. She currently teaches at the Art Institute of San Antonio.

Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2012.

 

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