Out of nothing

Two Rooms (black and white photograph)
Two Rooms (black and white photograph) by Paul Politis (2020)
Two Rooms (black and white photograph)
Two Rooms

To me, one way of looking at this odd building is as some strange creature peering out over the makeshift wooden fence. It’s not threatening though, just kind of goofy. A portrait.  Another is to focus on the formal aspects, the simplicity of the shapes and their arrangement. And another is to wonder about the two rooms.


“Some lived in it and never felt it but he knew it all was nada y pues nada y nada y pues nada. Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee.”
— “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”, Ernest Hemingway

I was reading an interview with photographer Robert Adams the other day wherein he shared his views on art and beauty (I’ve posted some quotes from Robert Adams in the past).

Here are a few quotes from the interview:

“The notable thing, it seems to me, about great pictures is that everything fits. There is nothing extraneous. There is nothing too much, too little, and everything within that frame relates. Nothing is isolated. The reason that becomes so moving is that the artist finally says that the form that he or she has found in that frame is analogous to form in life. The coherence within that frame points to a wider coherence in life as a whole. Why is that important? I think art is the sworn enemy of nihilism. And nihilism is a great downward tug that we all feel.

Sam Johnson, a great hero from the literary world back in the 1700s, said that in life there is much to endure and little to enjoy. To the extent that that’s true, life is hard to accept. And I think that the reason people flock to museums now and did so during the twentieth century was in large measure because of their hope that art would help reconcile that very difficult truth. My fear is that we in the art world are not consistently and ardently enough addressing that old traditional job of art: to reconcile us to life.”
Robert Adams

“Beauty, which I admit to being in pursuit of, is an extremely suspect word among many in the art world. But I don’t think you can get along without it. Beauty is the confirmation of meaning in life. It is the thing that seems invulnerable, in some cases, to our touch. And who would want to do without beauty? There’s something perverse about ruling out beauty. It’s not only in nature, incidentally. It’s in people. I took pictures in suburbs surrounding a nuclear weapons plant in the 1980s. And a number of things came clear as I went over the contact sheets where I printed out small pictures of all the film I exposed. One was the burden of sadness that seemed to be on most people’s faces. I was shocked. I was also shocked by how many people are in one way or another deformed. But I also discovered that, if I looked hard enough, there were an amazing number of people with resilience and courage and who, for a moment or two, had something in their eyes that was very admirable. And all of that, I think, is worthy of the term beauty. I hold onto that word; I refuse to surrender it. It’s the traditional end of art. And tradition is part of this occupation as far as I’m concerned. Creating out of nothing is something only God is reputed to have done.”
Robert Adams