There’s a troubling and ethereal space that exists between sleep and death. We often talk about death as a permanent sleep, a slumber one never wakes from. Photographer Duston Todd’s newest exhibition combines two distinct series of works that thrust this complex intersection into the light.
The first, Sleep Is the Cousin to Death, features portraits of women taken immediately upon waking from a night’s solid sleep. The disheveled nature of the subjects, stripped of all pretentiousness and artificiality (“Sarah” is pictured), removes the social masks we all choose to wear when confronting the realities of our world.
The second half of the show is a series of photos titled “Death Portraits” in which the subjects lie motionless, sprawled upon the ground, sticking halfway out of a dirt mound or, neck kinked, dangling off the side of a mattress. For Todd, the work is an exploration of what is left behind when that so-called spark of life is no longer present in the human body.