Personal statement by the photographer, Hannah MODIGH
"My grandmother was 100 years old when she died, soon after that my child was born. The feeling that death is replaced with life became palpable. Got me thinking about how we float like a delta. Some branches continue, some stops.
I’m looking for imprints that depict the presence of an absence. The things we bring with us and the things we leave behind when we die. I have photographed objects and paths that have a sense of rituals. Rituals and traditions are inherited, and we teach our children them. I have looked for imprint that indicating that life is about to break through, and where the end of a life makes itself felt.
I want to show everyday situations that are enshrouded in an awareness of death. I have followed childbirth and death in my own family and others I have met during the last years. It’s not about individuals or places without fragmentary images to illustrate the feeling that everyone is part of a root system and the images are symbols of an involvement. I like when things happen or have happened outside the image. Impressions in the image showing the presence of an absence. Tracks in the picture show an earlier event but leave a mystery over it. With a subtle language where what’s happening is beneath the surface. As surface tension ready to crack or get stuck in a glass cup. Questions that may not have answers. This is a series about time, trying to photograph time." (Hannah MODIGH)
Publisher's thoughts, inspired by the photo volume 'Delta' by hannah MODIGH (free translated, © Pierre Bessard)
Being born and dying in the waters of time. The tree of my childhood threatened to collapse, it had to be supported. Like my grandmother, so beautiful until the last moments.
When she died, I undressed and looked at her with all my nakedness. We are the same, I said to myself, two women's bodies, one vertical, the other lying down, two frailties full of strength.
When I was little, I loved to jump off the lake's pontoon, and to do it again and again, to test the solidity of silence. At home, in the North, there are skies to bathe in and waters to reflect in. I have traveled, seen deserts, abandoned valleys. I have seen fires, I have seen graves, and suffocated forests. My body changed, I was pregnant, and my breasts became the center of the universe. Milk flowed over the past.
I turned to the sand, buried myself in it for a few moments.
No, I had not been dreaming. In my footprint, there was room for two.
Summer came, too short, much too short. I observed around me men falling down, drunk with alcohol and melancholy, puppies chewing themselves and then falling asleep, gardeners imperturbably continuing their work of putting nature in order. In Africa, at the same time, fishermen are casting their nets. There are fewer fish here, perhaps they have all preferred to turn into salmon.
I have found an island where I can finally rest. I can't stop thinking. Of my mother holding her hand in a hospital bed. Of those crayfish fishing trips with my brothers and sisters. Of bodies floating in the Ganges. To the incense sticks, the prayers, the cataractous waters. I give you the breast my child, and you give me the world, while in the next room your grandmother is dying. We are not alone, but with the rocks, the skies, and the roadside pebbles forming a mound.
The earth is frozen, the humus is frozen, but in the pain of the souls gathered at the service rises a song of glory. Because life is superb even in death, and there are no dead natures, but everywhere, unnoticed, natures more than alive. It is time to leave, it is time to be born, it is time to really look at ourselves, and to dive together with pleasure into the river of time.
We are in the heart of the volcano. We are beasts promised to sacrifice. We are sacred. We are steps on the snow. We are a tree hundreds of years old, baptized by the rain.
Today, like every day, I took some photographs. It was windy in the wild grass, and I felt wild. I forgot for a few moments who I was, the history of my life, the history of the women in my family, the dramas and the joys. I was alone, I was nobody, I was a thousand years old, I curled up to disappear even better, and I suddenly became a pure point of vibration, nothing, everything.
I photographed what I could not see. All around me the twilight spread its veils. I then ran towards what has no name, hardly an appearance. It was a tiny child, it was an animal, it was a parchment skin. It was my life, and it was the first time I really understood it.
(By Pierre Bessard, these meditations were freely inspired by the photographs in this book)