I read at the same time: “This will be and this has been; I observe with horror an anterior future of which death is the stake. By giving me the absolute past of the pose (aorist), the photograph tells me death in the future. What pricks me is the discovery of this equivalence.…Whether or not the subject is already dead, every photograph is this catastrophe.” — Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida (1978)
Momento Mori, like the ‘properly’ spelled Memento Mori, is a reminder of our mortality just as every photograph is a tragedy, in that the instant the shutter snaps, the moment ceases to exist. Momento Mori carries a double entendre from the Spanish momento: the moment of death, that is, the moment a photograph is taken.
SD Holman has of late been turning their lens to portraits of absence. This exhibition is curated from a series documenting the home of trailblazing artist Geoff McMurchy’s home. At the estate’s request, Holman spent four days in McMurchy’s apartment after his untimely death, sleeping in his bed, photographing his meticulously curated assemblages of everyday objects.
Portraits of what is left afterlife. Tiny particles of DNA left on objects that become imbued with the divine, at once present and absent. Lonely and glorifying. Empty and full. All that remains, except for fallible memory.
The work in this series takes on new meaning when viewed through the lens of now. As our mobility is curtailed to contain contagion, and most of us are spending more time at home, these portraits invite us to contemplate our interior architecture.