omnia vanitas

guido mocafico
Top and above, from the vanitas series (2007) by Guido Mocafico (b. 1962),
an Italian-Swiss photographer living in France.
David Bailly (1584–1657)—Self-Portrait with Vanitas Symbols, c. 1651.
Note the date of the painting and Bailly's age
Above, overtly moralizing 18th century Austrian vanitas;
below typical 17th century Dutch still life vanitas by Adriaen van Utrecht

oskar dawicki
Vanitas”, 2005, by  Polish artist Oskar Dawicki (b. 1971) Various perishable food items are
arranged on shelves, each connected to a digital timer which counts down the days until
the item's expiration date. By the installation's end, all the products have gone bad or are technically inedible.
Ori Gersht--Time After Time: Blow Up No. 5
Time After Time: Blow Up No. 2
ori gersht-Time After Time: Blow Up No. 7
(above 3 images) Time After Time: Blow Up, by Ori Gersht (b. 1967), an Israeli fine art photographer living in London. The series consists of photographs of floral arrangements frozen with liquid nitrogen then captured at the moment of explosion.
Sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus, singula dum capti circumvectamur amore
“But meanwhile it flees: time flees irretrievably, while we wander around, prisoners of our love
of detail.”—Virgil

I had a tough time last weekend.

I wrote to a friend by way of explanation, “awful, awful. I feel like I'm trapped in a vanitas allegory.”
Aside from sounding pretentious, what was I talking about? Let's let turn to wikipedia:
...vanitas is a type of symbolic work of art especially associated with Northern European still life painting in Flanders and the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries, though also common in other places and periods. The Latin word means "emptiness" and loosely translated corresponds to the meaninglessness of earthly life and the transient nature of vanity. Ecclesiastes 1:2 from the Bible is often quoted in conjunction with this term. The Vulgate (Latin translation of the Bible) renders the verse as Vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas. The verse is translated as "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity" by the King James Version of the Bible, and "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless" by the New International Version of the Bible.
...By the 15th century these could be extremely morbid and explicit, reflecting an increased obsession with death and decay also seen in the Ars moriendi, Danse Macabre, and the overlapping motif of the Memento mori. From the Renaissance such motifs gradually became more indirect, and as the still-life genre became popular, found a home there. Paintings executed in the vanitas style were meant to remind viewers of the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death. They also provided a moral justification for many paintings of attractive objects.
My distress stemmed from having recently joined an online dating site and all the attendant self-examination that was involved. Your description of yourself—has it kept up with reality? Are the things that “signify” you—all the short hand you might think of yourself in— is it still true? What are you looking for? Do you know? Or do you find yourself looking for ghosts? And then what about these other people? Where is the line between selling a good profile and delusion?

One person told me, "online dating is filled with chimeras." Well, maybe you dont always know when you see one.


zameander said...

this is why i have never made the leap into psychotherapy -- which version of me would be on the couch in any given session? as somebody who grew up moving every 2 years or so, i am (usually unconsciously) a people-pleasing, mask-swapping, chimera. i am genuinely interested in vastly diverse STUFF, so i can show authentic enthusiasm as a listener, and sound passingly knowledgeable when it's my turn to speak. i can talk about vintage mustangs and 80s comics books out of one side of my mouth, and then talk about Victorian popular literature and how I wish I could have been a 'mud angel' after the flood in Florence. i will occasionally say "y'all." i will occasionally use outdated/antiquated words that one usually only reads. all this to say, i tend to exhibit/reflect the characteristics of those i'm hoping to please or attract -- which i suppose is what folks do on dating sites. we're forever looking for our like-minded crazies...

angela said...

Hey thanks for your comments. I find yr self-description pretty fascinating-- and familiar!
I love your thot: "we're forever looking for our like-minded crazies"
I think thats become something I just now realized felt like an imperative: "I can find them and we can all be reclusive eccentrics together!”

I've found it particularly poignant and frustrating, then, encountering some of the right "crazies" who never fully materialize. Or who need to be alone in that.

Well wrong kind of crazy I guess...

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