Confronting Death in Mexico City

5/12/16 Time

Mexico City - nunavut (Flickr)In a city with close to 22 million people, where concrete has taken over, how do you handle your dead? It’s that question that drove photographer Sebastien van Malleghen to Mexico City earlier this year.

“Around 450 people die every single day in Mexico City,” says the Belgian photographer best known for his in-depth forays into the penitentiary andlaw enforcement worlds. “The cemeteries are just enormous, and I wanted to show what happens between the moment we die and the moment our bodies are buried in a megalopolis like Mexico City.”

The result is a series of raw and unflinching images that show not just death but also life—the life of the people who work in the shadow, preparing bodies for their final repose. “Their job is to clean the corpses, fix the muscles, remove the fat, erase all of these stigmas and then to apply make-up and dress them up,” says van Malleghen. “It’s very mechanic. [After a while] the corpses become simple objects to them.”

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