“I enter with the funeral home employee into a small, sterile room in the basement of a hospital. It's lit by neon lights, the floor is of linoleum. There are metal stretchers, metal fridge doors, metal tools. The zinc coffin lid, screws, a soldering iron. The only thing that warms the atmosphere slightly is the presence of fabrics. White sheets, pillows, decorated blankets. The funeral home employee takes the stretcher out of the fridge and gently lifts the sheet. I observe the scene through the camera viewfinder. I'm hiding, in fact. We're here for Mrs. R, an elderly woman with smooth grey hair.(...)
Between the finite human life and death, there is a suspended moment in which one passes from one to the other. Those who bear witness to this transition are the caretakers responsible for performing the final treatment. They cleanse the bodies, dress them, comb their hair and arrange them in a peaceful repose for the very last time.
The caretakers attend to the deceased almost as if they were living, a testament to a uniquely human trait that has existed throughout time and across all cultures.
The performance of these last rituals is a human way to demonstrate the ability to face and address mortality. In her debut book Transi, Margot Jourquin documents this liminal instant between the two realms and the people who prepare the dead for their burial.
Shortly after I'm left alone with Mrs. R. I begin to really look at her, not focusing on making photos anymore. There are two of us in the room, and yet, I am alone. I can't comprehend that she's dead. I watch for any movement in her hands or in the sheets. By staring so intently, I get the feeling that they are moving. I fear she might open her eyes. I dare not turn my back on her. Confronted with something I can't understand, I'm petrified and frozen still.” -Margot Jourquin