MEMENTO MORI? Photography Exhibition by Dhaninun Dhanarachwattana

Dhanainun Dhanarachwattana solo photography exhibition, 25 September – 23 October 2015 at Jam.

Thai photographer Dhanainun examines the frailty of all life and absurdity of human rituals.

photography by Soopakorn Srisakul
MEMENTO MORI? – Artist Statement

In Antiquity, a Roman General who returned as a victor in war would be granted a Roman Triumph, a ceremony that celebrates his military success. On the day of the Triumph, he would be dressed in the finest clothes, crowned and looked upon as a kingly, near-divine being. At the height of such ecstatic pride, perhaps a mere mortal could come close to achieving immortality.

On one such occasions, when the public sanctification of a newly-crowned, self- proclaimed God reached its peak, and the hubristic General thought he could now grasp an oar belonging to the ferryman of River Styx, an onlooker, a mere slave, that poor sordid earthly creature, as far removed from the station of a terrestrial god as can be, staggered beside his heavenly chariot, attracted his attention, and in the euphoric rush of prideful arrogance the General looked at this foul being who returned his condescending glare with a stare as deep as an abyss of Pluto’s abode, and before all else could be said and done, the slave uttered but one word, a mere whisper that sent a burning thunder blazing down to the very soul of his vanity, ‘Memento Mori’.

‘Memento Mori’, ‘Remember Death’, a simple phrase no mortals should ever forget. In the height of life it is all too easy for its meaning to be lost amidst the worldly bliss, and yet the more blissful one becomes, the starker the prospect of death cuts across the sanctuary of one’s mortal life like a knife. But what if, what if no sentimentality ever existed in a life? When there is no sentiment, no humane context will be found, and no meaning can be given. In which case, does the prospect of death still have meanings enough to contemplate, to fear, to awe? In the same vein, are the deaths of little critters on roadsides merely something meaningless, so voided of definition that they become uncomfortable to us?

Death is death, whether to a hero, a warrior, a coward, a pigkeeper, or an animal, but for these little roadkilled creatures, are they worthy of our consideration? Are they a grave reminder of our fate? Would they have made a conqueror tremble in the inescapability of his death? And ours, can they be our Memento Mori?


A Bangkok-based sometimes photographer, writer and curator whose main interest lies in experiencing the world through words and pictures. Self-taught from the scratch by a lot of books and Internet articles, Dhanainun does however have a BA degree in Geography and currently works in the alternative energy industry.

Dhyan Ho