Title: Ad Infinitum
Photographer: Kris Vervaeke
Date of publication: 2013
Dimensions of book: 135 x 200mm
Number of pages: 264
Edition size: 500
Design & Lay-out: Hugo Puttaert
Retail price: 45 €
“This is a selection of more than 1000 pictures taken of the portraits found on the tombstones in Hong Kong. When searching for Hong Kong landscapes, I stumbled upon these seas of graves with the city scape in the back ground. Chinese permanent cemeteries where tens of thousand graves can be found. From early Chinese immigrants till today. These deserted cemeteries house many tiny portraits. Fading faces looking at you from the headstones. Memorial portraits on porcelain that show the person in real life. Portraits, personal and often intimate, that were never meant to be used as a memorial. A single image selected to convey a whole life.
In this book the portraits have been isolated from the headstones on purpose. Out of the context of the cemetery and away from the idea of death. Focus lies on the portrait itself, people in their present. Over time the portraits are exposed to rain, sun, extreme temperatures and humidity. The portraits become abstracts. In the end, we are left with the simple abstract beauty of the image as such.
The portrait series in the book exposes both the strength of the individual face and the perishable nature of the individual human body. An inherent contradiction of our existence. The clear images make us want to connect, understand, and know the strangers and their stories. The fading images reference mortality of human life, and the limitations of our impact. Subconsciously, our interest in the individual fades as the portraits become less clear. It is quietly replaced by our draw to the beauty of the abstract image.
We will be remembered only by the children of our children. As the faces fade further, anonymity returns and once again we become part of nature… ad infinitum.”
Shortlisted for the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards 2013
Vince Aletti says that, in aggregate, Ad Infinitum “is about the fugitive nature of portraiture, the impossibility of creating a final likeness. I just love looking at anonymous faces. Most of them are less here than gone, evoking thoughts of how we try, unsuccessfully, to fix people’s images in our minds. The book is beautifully and very simply designed, with the images given generous borders on pages that are evenly divided between black and white. It’s a simple yet lovely book.”