A week ago my solid, kind and adored therapist finally retired. I'm still numb from the ending of what has become one of my most important relationships to date. Every therapeutic relationship is different and ours evolved in to something far away from text books and theories and in to something imaginative, philosophical, supportive and ultimately saved my life more than once. A few weeks before our final session we were talking about photography. I mentioned the work of Khalik Allah, whom I had only just discovered. I broke down in tears recalling the images of these New Yorkers - tough, broken and on the edge of survival. What struck me most is their vibrance. Yes, there's suffering here, addiction and poverty but there's also tenacity. That the photographs are in colour, deep saturated flourishing colour, spoke to me about the vitality of the human spirit. And that's why I wept. 'All photography captures life' I said 'Even if it's no longer there, it's the evidence that it has been. From the sky at night to a lamp on a table, to the people in the photographs, it's all about life. And because it's all about life it means that it's about beauty.' I thought about the photographic projects I've assigned myself since becoming ill - from taking pictures of the small and mundane, snapping the shutter at the same subject matter over days or weeks to my most recent project 'The View From Here' (taken entirely from my bed during this recent crash). 'Even nothing is beautiful' I said.
My therapist smiled and repeated 'Nothing is beautiful' and in that moment we acknowledged both meanings inherent in this statement. The way I had originally meant it - even nothing is beautiful - and also remembering the despair I had taken to many session where I would arrive joyless and sad believing that there was no beauty in myself, or the world that I had access to. Nothing is beautiful, not this moment or any moment to come. But now my wish is that by stumbling on these words I can find moments, however short, where both the hope and hopelessness can live side by side. And that there will always be colour even in the most brutal of times.