Remember, you must die- mission 03
As a Buddhist, part of my practice is to reflect on death. At times death has been quite close. Someone I’ve loved has died or was in the process of dying. Then the occasional health scare to remind me of mortality. Suddenly death is on the agenda. But for most of us, lucky enough not to be living in a war-torn country, we can go whole days, even whole weeks without thinking of death.
But we must.
How do we remember this? One thing we can do is to make a ‘memento mori’.
Traditionally memento mori are a type of still life painting. Still life images are simply an arrangement of ‘everyday objects’ painted or photographed.
A memento mori is a still life picture which reminds the viewer that one day they must die.
Traditionally the collection of objects would include maybe a skull, a candle that had been blown out, or petals falling from flowers.
You can find these ‘memento mori’ in contemporary photography. Often the objects are less obvious, but there is a sense of ending, or the passing of time. Wolfgang Tillmans has many images that to me are memento mori, you can see more of his pictures at his website.
So, the challenge this week is to make a memento mori. An image that says, ‘remember, you must die’. But, it should be an image with beauty in it. To reflect deeply on death, we need to be drawn in by beauty or love, otherwise they’ll just be a ‘pulling away.
This is primarily a photography assignment, but feel free to experiment, it could be a drawing, a painting or a picture made of words.
You can find and arrange the objects yourself, or just see what life arranges for you.
The final image is a number of objects, together, telling us, ‘remember, you must die’.