Mono No Aware

I do photography in the streets mostly. I photograph people in their daily life – working, praying, cummuting, playing, hanging out. Everyone is suddenly forced to isolate – there is hardly a living being seen in the streets. I don’t touch my camera for nearly a month. What is there to catch my attention? What do I photograph? It’s an emegency – global and personal. What do I create, if at all?

Nothing, no one, is permanent. We are all transient, existing for a brief amount of time – like a falling star in the night sky. And we spend this brief existence chasing things and people we think will cling to us forever. Slow down a bit, look around, enjoy the beauty of life – yours and others’ – for everything is ephemeral.

Often translated to “the pathos of things,” the traditional Japanese concept mono no aware (物の哀れ) means an empathy or sensitivity towards things that last only for a short period. It’s an awareness of impermanence and involves both feelings of joy and sadness as this is the truth of life. Aware is often translated as sadness due to the lack of appropriate term. But its essence is the experience of ‘being deeply moved by emotions that may include joy and love as well sadness.’

Started during the forced isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mono No Aware is a collection of images that result from slowing down, taking time to observe, and putting those observations into a frame while admiring the ephemeral nature of life. Created in moments of solitude – oh, what a privilege that is – often accompanied by inexplicable melancholy, these monochrome pictures are a peek into the world around me – a world that changes quickly and inevitably. It’s acknowledging that things exist – even for a brief amount of time – and that there is beauty everywhere.

These feelings of isolation and melancholia continued to reappear even after the end of isolation – making this project continue all the way until 2024 when I finally called its end.

I think this project needs a soundtrack and Don’t Go by Chris Coleman is my choice. Play it in the background, scroll down slowly, and enjoy this collection.

Years: 2020 – 2024