Memento mori. Memento vivere.
Isadora Stowe, Paradox Immersive Art,El Paso, TX March-August, 2023
Momento is an immersive installation by multi-media borderland artist Isadora Stowe that serves the participant as a reminder of the ideas behind Memento mori, memento vivere. The tradition in artmaking that references reminders that death is inevitable so we must live and live as well as we can.
The art installation “Momento” references the 1533 Holbein painting “The Ambassadors”, which includes iconography that symbolized imagery linking objects to ideas such as changes in the cultural landscape of the time and inclusion of more scientific instruments and ways of experiencing the world to explain the human experience. “The Ambassadors” also uses anamorphosis, a distorted projection of a skull representing “Momento mori” requiring the viewer to occupy a specific vantage point to view a recognizable image, which Stowe also utilizes with iconography on the floor and wall of her installation. She provides a different way to experience the space by the space a person occupies within it.
The light in Stowe’s site-specific installations create otherworldly spaces where participants engage in surrealistic worlds- where anything is possible including the way we view our sense of self. The pillows in the installation invite the viewer to experience a sense of reprieve and relaxation, as we find ourselves in a capitalist society that values constant production over the value of stillness and observation. Casting an illuminating light on our troubled relationship with rest and how to imagine and dream our way to a future where rest is exalted. The artwork hung from the ceiling asks the participants to use the provided blue light flashlights to highlight areas that glow on the art that are not able to be seen by the naked eye, reminding us that we don’t always have access or take the time to contemplate all that there is.
She asks that participants in this installation ask themselves the following questions. Extra universe points for sharing these answers with strangers in the installation:
What would you do if you knew you could do anything?
How would the answer to that change how you are living now?
Singing in the space is also encouraged.