The inspiration for Istanbul-based Emir Ozsahin‘s Pastel Deaths, posed photographs of dead animals, was the death of a very close friend. He had seen what no one wishes to see, a photograph of her “lying on the highway covered with newspapers,” which understandably haunted him. The experience led him to investigate the ways in which death could be visually memorialized in a more sentimental, less traumatizing way.
Ozsahin’s photographs of dead animals, posed to look more like they are peacefully sleeping or in a resting state, naturally recalls Victorian-era memento mori. These post-mortem photo portraits were a popular way for relatives of the recently deceased to have at least one photograph to remember their loved one by. The dead were often posed in a similar way, looking asleep or just dozed off in a chair. Ozsahin says his project “…is about how people want to remember the ones they have lost in the past. My aim is to show death, which is an awful thing but also inevitable, in a naive and optimistic way. I tried to express how I want to perceive death and turn a bad situation into an acceptable one. So I created a series of photographs which are naive enough to make you forget what will happen to the remains of a loved one.”