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MEMENTO: JAN ERNST DE WET

June 18, 2018

 

Model: Aldrin Klaase

Photographer: Jan Ernst de Wet

Art director: Jan Ernst de Wet 

 

Travelling is by far the most rewarding experience anyone can live. It is filled with adventure, the unknown and new. During a journey, we either try to capture these moments through photographs or souvenirs to make sure the memories last forever. Other times, we leave a bit of ourselves behind for others to acknowledge our existence once we've left.

 

We have become a lot more inclined to value the moment and experience rather than the permanence of a physical memento. There is something beautiful and sentimental in this ephemeral way of making memories last. 

 

Don't get me wrong, I love a postcard or key ring from a friend's travel, but I do wonder where the need to give or take from a foreign landscape comes from. Whenever we find ourselves in a new place, whether on vacation, or just a trip to the beach, there is always a subconscious urge to inscribe something on that environment and if the opportunity does not present itself, to take something when we leave. Sometimes, both.

 

 

Model: Aldrin Klaase

Photographer: Jan Ernst de Wet

Art director: Jan Ernst de Wet 

 

It reminds me of childhood holidays and how we'd collect shells or fill Coca-Cola bottles with ocean water to take back home to the nanny. Yes, these were tangible items that we could hold onto and treasure when we were no longer there. They served as keepsakes and would evoke memories when we yearned to relive those precious times. 

 

While we took these things with us, we were also giving to this landscape - perhaps in a more ephemeral way. Hours were spent on the beach building sand castles. Big walls and towers, bridges and moats all in place as we prepared for high tide. What we gave was something of ourselves, it would disappear as soon as the bigger waves hit the shore, but we felt accomplished that something of us remained behind, even if it was short lived.

 

Sometimes, this idea of 'remaining' has somewhat of a different nature. Like most kids, I have too, scraped my name somewhere in a tree branch. At the time, I had no idea why I was doing it, but it would later become clear that just like the graffiti we find in urban environments I was, in fact, marking my ground and trying to immortalize my pressence. 

 

This is the part that fascinates me most. As children, we have no understanding of territory. Even greater than that, leaving a legacy behind...

 

In this series of images, we explore the idea of removing that need. Imagine visiting a new destination with no desire to take or leave anything physical or intangible behind. How would we perceive ourselves in those places? No lovers lock in Paris or small copper Statue of Liberty from New York? Have we [de]evolved to such a degree that we simply cannot rely on memory alone to make a moment last?

 

Model: Aldrin Klaase

Photographer: Jan Ernst de Wet

Art director: Jan Ernst de Wet 

 

The images portray a figure in an interior landscape devoid of detail and identity. The white monolithic shape amplifies the abstraction and allows the focus to be on the human element which lacks emotion. It also deals with the confusion and perplexity of not having the desire to engage with the environment and the urge to fix it.

 

I struggle to wrap my mind around this. What would Morocco be if we couldn't take spices from the souk home to cook for our friends. How would we celebrate reaching the top of Kilimanjaro if we couldn't plant a flag. We are tangible creatures.

 

We move,

we live,

we make.

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