Tidy Up 2 by Ros Paton

Some questions that may be posed to art in determining its value, such as “how does it relate to modernity and postmodernity?”, or “what is its relevance to the contemporary condition?”, require such depth and also breadth of understanding that I fear I am not ready yet to answer them. Maybe I will have an answer next week, or maybe never.

How deep is profound? Is profound broad as well as deep? At what point does shallow become profound? I certainly am not able to answer these questions either. I know I am guilty of occasionally being vague. It is usually because my headspace is somewhere else thinking of a painting, a colour and image or a concept that has nothing to do with the moment. I don’t think vague falls under the glib definition, but it certainly doesn’t enhance any pretensions of being profound!

I have often thought how great it would be to have a guide dog like blind people when I am walking around with my “artists’ eyes” on, as it would be wonderful to have assistance with negotiating the real world when my mind is seeing it in terms of colour and shapes, and not being mindful of things like oncoming traffic or “don’t walk” signals.

SDk: We’ve featured many works from “Momenti Mori” in SDk03, but… the Latin is wrong! However, we believe there’s a reason why memento mori wasn’t the title.

RP: At about the time I began working

on this series I discovered the work of Hiram Williams, just before his death in 2003. Although our works are very different physically as he makes “skins” over human bodies, tablescapes and even walls, Williams also dealt with transiency, and was particularly concerned with human transiency and the ephemeral nature of memory and existence. He delved deeply and, for many, morosely, into death for the individual and even for the species; he produced a powerful series of works that he titled “Momenti Mori”.

I also related strongly to the “Arrangements” series of work by Jean Dibble, which she describes as being “conceived to be within the tradition of Momenti Mori”. These still-life photographs of floral arrangements with distressed surfaces were taken with old Polaroid black-and-white slide film that was unstable and unpredictable. The processes she then used to transfer the images to panels, as she says, deals with the idea of “imperfect transmission” and the “shallowness of reproduction”, which relate to me as memory, and also as a metaphor for the Vanitas of momentary life captured in the floral arrangements.

So I named my own series “Momenti Mori” because this was the term employed by Williams and Dibble, whose work introduced me to the concept.

SDk: Despite your more than two-decade interest in themes of demolition, decay and impermanence, we believe

art
art
108
109