I have been interested in the idea of the vanity of our natures for some time and how this has contributed to the world’s current state of natural disasters.
Natural disasters, I find this term to be quite amusing in its safety of thinking for the chatter between the Id, superego and ego. These are man-made climate change outcomes hardly natural.
The term Vanitas originally comes from the opening lines of the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible: ‘Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ This style of still–life painting flourished in the Netherlands in the early 17th century.
Vanitas is closely related to memento mori still lifes, which are artworks that remind the viewer of the shortness and fragility of life (memento mori is a Latin phrase meaning ‘remember you must die’). The symbolism includes skulls and extinguished candles. Vanitas still-life from the 17th Century also included musical instruments, wine and books to remind the viewer of worthlessness of worldly pleasures and goods. This is our existential moment, we are responsible.