Authorship: Ashley Gilbertson / FABRICA
Death and Birth
After risking his life every day for four years as a war reporter in Iraq, Ashley Gilbertson depicts the life and death of the various communities living in Vienna. He shows the value of our existence by photographing life’s first cry and its dying breath.
When I began to conceptualize this project, it was simply about death. I had spent four years covering the conflict in Iraq, where my work was both rewarding and challenging: I had the opportunity to offer the world beyond glimpses of the war, but in providing these glimpses, I was often confronted by death.
My project evolved into “Death and Birth” when I realized that the reason I wanted to photograph death was to show viewers that our lives are precious, and rich with choices from the moment we are born. To depict the value of life, I needed to show its last breath, and its first.
“Death and Birth”, I knew, would be a life-long project. I chose Vienna to begin studying these universal truths; it's an important European capital, but one featured less prominently in the news than some of its counterparts in the EU. Vienna has a culturally rich past and present, with a population comprised of many ethnicities.
Surprisingly, grieving families were more open to being photographed than those preparing to usher in new members. Birth is a happy discussion, but it’s more intimate than death, which though difficult to discuss and confront, is final. What lies in between is here and now. Life.
Featured in the I SEE project exhibited in 'Les Yeux Ouverts' at Centre Pompidou (France 2006), Milan Triennale (Italy 2007), Shanghai Art Museum (China 2007), Tokyo ShiodomeItalia Creative Center (Japan 2008)
A physical and visual journey of exploration into the current trends of historical, cultural, artistic, social and economic development. “I see” also means “I observe” and “I understand”. Six photographers from Fabrica each chose a story to represent one of the world’s six main geographic areas: North America, South America, East, Far East, Africa and Europe.
Fabrica for the I SEE project