These faces - aged 1, or 10, or 100 years old and immortalised in black and white by Edouard Janssens - are smiling, reserved or radiant. Placed side by side in a line, artificially anonymous, singled out in accordance with the artist’s design, they all express the luminous clarity of the life force, yet are powerless to hide the indelible lines left by the years gone by or the incipient ones of those that lie ahead. They are all snapshots in time, unique links in the infinite chain of successive generations, acting as a reminder of the inexorable passage time and the fate that awaits us all.
The portraits comprising the One to One Hundred Years series reveal the mischievous candour of childhood, the ardour of youth, the restraint in a gauche smile. They display the quiet strength of those who hope or the remote gaze of those who seem already to have moved on elsewhere.
Life and death, infinity and humanity - One to One Hundred Years invites us examine existence from all sides. A gallery of portraits of 100 women and 100 men aged from 1 to 100 years, taken mostly in the studio, is like a meditation on ageing, the path travelled and that which lies ahead depending on each person’s life expectancy. The series is replete with symbolism and it provides the photographer, whose image appears among the male portraits, with an opportunity to reflect on his own life and address the existential questions that are of vital relevance to us all. Who am I? What have I done with my life? Who will I be tomorrow?
Thanks to a happy coincidence of dates, these black and white photos were subsequently chosen by the European Commission to be printed and exhibited side by side on temporary hundred-metre-long rails outside the Berlaymont in Brussels as part of the Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations in 2012.