Memento Mori

Remember death, remember you will die . . .

During the Covid-19 pandemic I was prompted to revisit these images begun several years ago. After a year of isolation, with news of millions of shocking deaths, I remembered these little corpses and their feeling of quiet stillness with new purpose. 

Following the 2014 Vacant Nests series, I made more images but with a different intent—to confront death as a universal creaturely experience. I hesitated and put these pictures aside. 2021 was the time to look directly and reckon with our fragility.

These 11 high resolution photographs are printed with archival pigment inks on 100% cotton canvas, then mounted to wooden panels. Copper leaf is applied to the panel edges, and the surface is protected with varnish. Ed 3. 30 x 24 inches. Also available as unmounted prints on heavyweight 100% cotton paper, size variable. Ed 3 + 1 AP.  2021

Time and Mortality. Perhaps the stage for the mature artist is always flanked by the clock and the specter of death. But certainly during this period of a global pandemic, the penetrating presence of loss colors all considerations. Irene Imfeld’s photographs place death in the center of the frame. Reaching into the visual vocabulary of Flemish still life painting, Imfeld imbues her image with the hush of the endless dark background. With the sharpened focus on the bird, stilled in a haunting quiet where the rustle of every fine feather might be heard — if only there were movement in the lifeless wing — Imfeld captures the exquisite beauty that has been lost. The fragility of the wing, breast, egg — holds a quality that renders the memento mori a whispered haunting.

Jan Wurm, Stilling the Noise to See Within, Berkeley, 2023