Memento Mori - Artist Statement

Medium
Video installation
AV performance
Digital prints

Exhibited at
Polymer Culture Factory, Tallinn Estonia
Meno Parkas Gallery, Kaunas, Lithuania
Totaldobže Art Centre, Riga, Latvia

Artist statement:

Remember your mortality is the symbolic message of a “Memento Mori.” Mortality points to our awareness of the finite time span of human life. There is so much apprehension around death because of the sadness of loss associated with it and the physical pain that often accompanies this passage. Life itself goes by so quickly. How much of our experience is determined by free will, or by fate, or by god that created us?

To look at mortality leads me also to look at immortality. Some believe that humans have an immortal soul. Others would say we only live once and that’s the end, consciousness and the mind is totally separate from any idea that we have an immortal soul. If there is a god or not we can’t really prove it nor disprove its existence through science, reason or empiricism. In modern day terms it comes down to a matter of individual faith if we believe in some cosmic being to exist that we cannot see or not. What form shape or identity this might take can be vastly different from culture to culture.

“What if you slept? And what if, in your sleep, you dreamed? And what if, in your dream, you went to heaven and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower? And what if, when you awoke, you had the flower in your hand? Ah, what then?”
~ Coleridge

If we believe in the existence of God or not it is our moral reasoning that becomes the method behind our decisions for which we live our short lives. Humans are a dual creature, made up of both mind and body. We have a physical and material body as animals do, yet we are also creatures of reason. We are able to decide from moral and logical thinking if we are to act on a certain impulse or not, so we don’t survive entirely on instinct alone.

Personal freedom then comes from this very ability to act in a certain way because of our moral and rational decisions, even if this appears as not in our individual best interest. What’s in our best interest at the time might be dominated by short lived rewards and we would choose otherwise from a different line of thinking. Acting from a position of moral choice or altruism is an expression of free will. It is what separates us from animals.

“Memento Mori” was a favourite term mentioned often in the Baroque period, along with another phrase “seize the day.” This points decidedly towards the ephemeral nature of things and to live life to the fullest. Yet despite this, if we experience great opulence and vanity in life death is still waiting for us at the end, sitting beside the painting, next to the fruit bowl. What we have done with our life and the sum of our actions decided by our own moral reasoning will be with us until the end.