Mirko Orlando

Towards a general theory of post-mortem photography

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: "Post-mortem" Photography; Representation of Death; Burial Customs; Victorian Photography; Mourning Portrait.

This article aims to shed light on the social uses and meaning of post-mortem photography throughout its long historic path, facilitating the comprehension of its placement within the current burial customs. As extremely spread custom that stemmed between the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth century, the post-mortem photography has been replaced by the more common souvenir portrait, to the extent that it is not considered as an obsessive ritual which is ascribed to specific folk traditions. In order to define the parameters of a general theory of post-mortem photography, it is necessary to cease to consider photography as a simple picture to highlight the relationship with the thanatometamorphosis practices and devotional behavior. Finally, to explain the reasons of the progressive withdrawal of the post-mortem photography from the common social prescriptions, it is essential to comprehend the link between the social representation of death and the current concept of group, sociality and family.

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