MEMENTO MORI, 2022
SOIL, WHITE CLAY, CONCRETE
INSTALLED AT ALL TOGETHER NOW FESTIVAL, WATERFORD JULY 2022 - CURATED BY SIMON VAUGHAN AT STRONG & CO, UK
& IN THE GARDEN GALLERIES AT IMMA FOR EARTH RISING OCTOBER 2022 - CURATED BY ANNIE FLETCHER, JULIA MOUSTACCHI & SIOBHAN MOONEY
Latin for “remember that you die”, Memento Mori is an artistic or symbolic trope acting as a reminder of the inevitability of death which has been used in philosophy, religion, art, spirituality through the ages. It is in the acknowledgement and acceptance of the inevitability of death that we are free to engage fully with the present reality.
Capitalism is built on the promise of the removal of, distraction from, and cushioning from the inevitability of death. This illusion of eternal youth and protection from the realities of existence is the lure that keeps society in a blinkered state, always working towards some fantasy future goal of more money, more beauty, more safety. It is the denial of the passing of time.
It is this disregard for the actualities of the process of “progress” in the capitalist sense that has led to the climate crisis we are now experiencing on earth. The endless extraction of resources from nature with no replenishment has resulted in the destruction of entire ecosystems. We are being reminded by the earth that we are a part of these ecosystems and just as vulnerable as any part of nature, rather than being removed from or above them, as the capitalist agenda would have us believe.
Taking the form of the ancient tomb and the great mother, this piece is comprised of 400 bone-like sculptures, representing the 400 vertebrates that have become extinct in the past 100 years, in a process that through normal evolution would have taken 10,000 years. Arranged in a circular form outdoors, the small sculptures are made of white clay and cement, resembling both a pile of bones and a pile of rubble. The installation presents an opportunity for reflection on our place in the ecosystem of our planet.
Reminiscent of ancient structures used as markers of time and seasonal cycles (neolithic tombs, Stonehenge, sundials), and with its nod to our impending extinction, the installation is like a portal to past, present and future. A reminder of the impending possibility of us becoming an endangered species by our own hand.
It serves as a visual and visceral reminder of our connection to our true nature as a part of nature and as custodians of the earth, like our ancestors before us.
In the tradition of the Shaman, the Witch, the Indigenous Healer, the Artist - this is the medicine needed to wake us up to action.
The medicine that we feel in our bones.