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Slutninger

In the series Slutninger / Endings, Nicolai Howalt has studied death in the form of the ashes that remain after the cremation of a human being. An investigation of how one quite specifically ends up after death – in this case something as tangible as a heap of dust in a zinc box. In the six life-size and six smaller photographs of ashes one can experi¬ence a number of dust landscapes consisting of particles in black, white and grey-brown nuances. The particles form a distinctive substance and texture in the picture surface which is characteristic of all the photographs and creates a serial totality.

As viewer, one is presented with a body that has been released from the personal and the almost all-embracing cultural, religious and social context of which it has been a part; something that seems to be an impossible, utopian thought for the great majority of people, since the view of death is so deeply rooted in the individual and the emoti¬onal. But the homogeneity of the photographs and the extent to which the subjects have been abstracted from imme¬diate recognizability permit us to study death at close quarters; a phenomenon, a condition of life of which we are all aware and conscious, but which is nevertheless alien and inexplicable.

But although the photographs function as a study and an abstraction of death, the viewer is not guided for¬ward to a conclusion on what death is, or a sense of shock. The trace of death has been observed and presented – not exposed and furnished with interpretative directional signals.

The photo series is to a far greater extent an experience of how the end of the human being is part of some¬thing much larger than our individual relationship with death – we come to dust, but where in the universe does the dust end?