The Human Stain

Hour Of Death

Ellyn Ruddick-Sunstein shares the haunting work of photographer Sarah Sudhoff:

[She] traces the physical, bodily evidence left by the dead; for her project At the Hour of Our Death, she gives form to death and the unknown, shooting fabrics stained by the blood and fluids of the victims of murder, suicide, and illness. She follows these material reminders of dead, contaminated and removed from the scene, to a warehouse, where they wait to be disposed of; she knows not the names or [identities] of the dead, constructing strange and poignant narratives with only the colors and shapes left by their passing.

Sudhoff spoke to Alison Zavos about her process in 2011:

You’ve mentioned that you feel deeply saddened when photographing the remains of a persons death. How do you mentally prepare before a shoot and how do you cope afterwards?

I don’t think there is anything someone can do to mentally prepare for dealing with death. Each shoot I have to push myself physically and emotionally to even make the call to see if new material is in. On one hand I dread finding out what jobs the crew is working on yet on the other hand I can’t help but be intrigued by the possibilities. …

Each time I leave a shoot I have a long drive ahead of me. I’ve started taking a change of clothes with me so I don’t have to drive and sit in the outfit I shot the material in. I am usually very careful to cover up and wear gloves however its more of a peace of mind to remove even the possibility of something on me. I typically stop at a gas station to scrub down my arms and face before hitting the road. As soon as I get home, I take a long hot shower and wash all my clothes from the shoot.

See more of Sudhoff’s work here. Watch a short film about the project here.

(Photo: Suicide with Gun, Male, 40 years old)