Photography - Impermanence

Jean Bogais


After working for many years in spaces of conflict and violence, I feel attracted to the notion of impermanence, which is a theme referring to the uncertain and temporary nature of much of what we regard as reality – while everything is constantly changing and nothing lasts forever. This dichotomy attracts me both as a sociologist and a photographer.

Impermanence is a difficult concept to accept because it goes against the human desire for stability, security and continuity. It goes against the desire–obsession at times–to preserve everything human and non-human to fit a certain image–at a specific time–seen as perfect. This may go as far as trying to perfect imperfection to create new truths. Impermanence can be a human construct (through industrialisation), but it can also be nature-made (erosion). Time is relevant, even though its "location" is not. The relationship between the two (human-construct and nature-made) is what I aim to explore in this project.

Writing about impermanence, Michael Freeman, the internationally-acclaimed photographer and writer, explained in his book: The Photographer's Mind, "imperfections were perceived differently in East Asia as they were in the European and American Romantics periods." This led to the important Japanese aesthetic invention called wabi-sabi. (Wabi: humble and simple, less is more, and Sabi: old and discoloured. Wabi-Sabi, which is a positive and enlightening condition has evolved from a darker and negative state over time. This is of importance in Japanese culture. Link to Michael Freeman website
Impermanence (erosion): Gatekeepers - stormy day
Southern tip of South Bruny Island, Tasmania, a place beyond time where the Tasman Sea and the Southern Ocean meet.
Impermanence (erosion): Wilderness
When seas and rocks are merging as they have done for millions of years.
Old amenities
Materials, colours & textures.
Impermanence: Crane
Circa 1880s and in the process of restoration.
Windows on windows in an old warehouse once used for shipbuilding.
Impermanence: Keeping things alive
Volunteer at an old heritage shipyard working in restoring engineering "things" to connect the past to the future.
Impermanence: Beauty and Decay
Glebe Island Bridge in Sydney left in a state of neglect. This remarkable engineering work (still in functioning order) is the subject of a dispute between heritage advocates and developers.
RapidWeaver Icon