We are not happy to be reminded of our mortality. As a society we hide death away in secluded graveyards and the dying process in hospitals and hospices.
It is therefore not surprising that people react negatively to roadside memorials erected to commemorate and mark the site of a fatal accident. As we hurtle down a road, cell phone clamped to our ear, we don’t want to be reminded that in a moment it can all go so horrifically wrong.
One day, outside Upington in the Northern Cape, I took the time to stop and photograph a roadside memorial. It was an elaborate affair with crosses and bunches of plastic flowers. Clearly a lot of time and effort had been expended on the site . I took several photographs and was effectively hooked on this project from that moment.
I have now photographed over 50 roadside memorials. They are sad, depressing and lonely. It is not easy photographing them. They are not joyous places and are seldom located in scenic areas. People don’t choose the site of their fatal vehicle accident so it is all rather haphazard, a bit like the accidents themselves I suppose.