Memento Mori: A Positive and Contemporary Reflection Through Visual Art on a Life Spent Well

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Author: Debbie Walter, Charles Darwin University, Casuarina, Australia
Email: debdesignwalter@gmail.com
Published: November 20, 2019
https://doi.org/10.22492/ijah.6.2.10

Citation: Walter, D. (2019). Memento Mori: A Positive and Contemporary Reflection Through Visual Art on a Life Spent Well. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 6(2). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijah.6.2.10


Abstract

“Memento mori”, a Latin phrase meaning “remember you must die”, is generally conceived as morbid. But there is a long and fascinating tradition of artwork based on this concept that is designed to encourage a more beneficial appraisal of the time a human being spends on the planet. In a world where the media inundates the social sphere with negative stories and where people have been desensitised to the significance of death, the topic is compelling. In many cultures nowadays consumerism is encouraged and extravagance is promoted. This consumerism can function as a distraction that helps people avoid thinking about death, but it certainly does not help one to truly prepare for something that is inevitable.

The present practice-inspired visual arts analysis explores memento mori with compassion, insisting on the layers of unanticipated beauty and aesthetics that survive in the traces humans leave behind as evidence of their ephemeral existence. Furthermore, it posits positive new ways of representing an age-old contemplation that is universal and spans all cultures.

Keywords: memento mori reflection, visual arts, cultural and philosophical perspectives, time, aesthetic traces of existence