Vita Somnium Breve
(Life Is A Short Dream)
I first saw the Vita Somnium Breve when I was 16. I was in Switzerland as part of a student exchange program staying with a Swiss-German family in the city of Basel. The very lovely Mrs Rigas took me to the Kunstmuseum Basel one day. It was my first major exposure to art and, in hindsight, a life changing experience. Even now I still vividly remember some of the art I saw there, especially the 1888 painting Vita Somnium Breve by the Swiss symbolist painter Arnold Böcklin. I can`t quite explain why I was so drawn to this particular painting, but it stuck in my mind very firmly nevertheless. Two decades have passed, yet I still keep returning to it in my thoughts and my photographic practice.
I started working on this series about three years ago. It has taken me a lot of time to find the rest of the story; I always thought I had to rely on my imagination alone, but in the end the missing piece came to me in the form of a very real gravestone that also had the year 1888 on it as well as the names of four children aged 12 days to 14 months.