‘Life before death’ by Walter Schels and Beatte Lakotta (2002-2004)


"Now I'm lying here waiting to die. But each day that I have, I savor, experiencing life to the full. I never paid any attention to clouds before. Now I see everything from a totally different perspective: every cloud outside my window, every flower in the vase. Suddenly, everything matters".

Name: Wolfgang Kotzahn

Age: 57

Born: 19th January 1947

Died: 4th February 2004, at Leuchtfeuer Hospice, Hamburg

I have been working on building a strong conceptual background for quite a while now and the challenges are many, bringing with them anxieties and dilemmas. My biggest concern was always the nature of the content I needed. Some of my research in this area is found in the paper "Trespassing the boundaries of flesh…" (see link in bio). However if I had to put my finger on one particular source of inspiration, it would undoubtly be "Life before death" by photographer Walter Schels and his partner Beatte Lakotta (2002-2004).

Coming across this artistic research really validated my own area of study. The work consists of a "before and after death" series of portraits taken as a way of confronting one's own fears. The work enables the viewer to engage with one's own temporality and visually cross the boundary of death. Not only, he interviewed each of his subjects during the last days of their lives and recorded a testimony that is rich in the awareness of life and of death.

This testimony became my focus. Finding a story to tell about that cloud in the sky and how the different elements of nature can be used as metaphor for our own journey through life and death became a main concern.