I was 14 the first time I saw a dead person. My grandmother had just passed and we were at her wake. I remember it being so strange seeing her lying there in her coffin. At first it just looked like she was asleep, but when I got closer I could tell that life had left her body. This had a big effect on me and it is a big reason for me having an interest in death. It is such a great mystery…there is no (right or wrong) answer. You only know when your time has come.—Bjørn Haldorsen
Copenhagen-based photographer Bjørn Haldorsen began Evergreen, his work exploring a Brooklyn funeral home of the same name, while still a student at the International Center of Photography. In his examination of death and its depressingly pragmatic post-processes, he writes that Evergreen made him “understand the importance of the people closest to you. With [this work] I wanted to document the mystery of death through the lives of those who work with it every day. I wanted to see if they had a different view on death and life, seeing as they are so close to it.”
Haldorsen’s photographs, though enveloped in a broader body of “darker” subject matter, emerge as illuminating, corroborating an old but important belief that photography does indeed shed light on the mystery of our entire human condition. Whether or not we choose to pursue these mysteries and answer our own questions is on each of us, while how we choose to pursue them defines the artist.