Brain Food #569

Setting down the past

Thoughts of the day

The work of photographer Arnaud Montagard documents barely occupied spaces, often capturing the odd lonely and mysterious figure, reminiscent of Edward Hopper’s paintings, but also the photography of Wim Wenders. His work consists of abandoned buildings, cars, tables. It is as if life stopped, and his shots make one wonder how many of the places that we used to frequent in our previous lives must look like these days.

What gets left behind, devoid of people, removes the viewer from the present. The mind begins to wander, imagining not only the future -our most natural of human tendencies when faced with a singular moment in an unfolding story- but also the past. We don’t just ask ‘What’s going to happen next?’ but also, ‘Who was there, what happened to them?’

The past, like a photograph, is what it is; unchangeable. Some of these places will come back to life, eventually. Others will have no future. Like Nietzsche also argued with his amor fati theory, it is in this amicable encounter with the past that we can be ready to face the present.


“At some point, you have to set down the past. At some point, you have to accept that everyone was doing their best. At some point, you have to gather yourself up, and go onward into your life.”
Olivia Laing


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