In the Netherlands, not too long ago, it was common to include a white cotton burial shroud in a bride’s dowry. Or to be gifted for a couple’s wedding. As a yearly tradition, the shroud would be meticulously washed and ironed with great care – good housekeeping, or a reminder of one’s own mortality?
Nowadays, we prefer not to deal with death directly. We find it depressing, or worry that this kind of ‘morbid’ thinking could be bad luck. But in New Zealand, coffin clubs where members construct their own caskets are on the rise. The Japanese custom to test one’s own coffin is slowly emerging in the Netherlands. And Dutch funeral directors encourage us to make our final wishes known before it’s too late.
The people captured in this exhibition celebrate and embrace life, but do not ignore death. Instead, they engage.
About the photographer
Saskia Aukema is a Dutch journalist and photographer. She enjoys slow journalism: stories that develop and blossom gradually, often about a person’s vital life decisions and how these shape their identity. Aside from her work for newspaper Trouw, her widely exhibited photo series such as Veiled were nationally awarded in 2016 and 2017. She has two publications, Bekeerd (2014) and Veiled (2017), under her name.