Vanitas Vanitatum Today 2001-2005, photographs
It is not accidental that Einat Arif-Galanti chose to give her photographic series the Latin title Vanitas Vanitatum Today, for the term “vanitas” has a place of honor in the history of art. Vanitas paintings, whose roots may be traced back to Renaissance art, reaching their peak of popularity in Dutch and Italian art in the early seventeenth century, address the transience and fragility of human life and the ephemerality of man’s passions and pleasures. They habitually present compositions of objects (bowls of fruit, flowers, musical instruments, books, precious vases) arranged on some surface – usually a table or a shelf. The choice of objects is not random; they all symbolize beauty and quality, but also withering or short-lived pleasures that gradually dissolve (such as the sounds of music). The message conveyed by these paintings was comprehensible to the contemporaneous viewer: Memento mori (remember that you must die).