Tom Kavanagh’s book begins with a sequence of dislocated, somewhat abstract photographs. The interplay of light on textures and surfaces reminds one of the first moments of waking: sunlight on a bedroom wall, the shadow of a curtain, a view of the early morning sky. From there we are taken on a journey, a search for meaning in the matrix of the modern world. Pictures of rough concrete and asphalt are juxtaposed with smooth sculptured marble, desert-like vistas sit alongside European-looking forests, and recurring symbols of spiritual devotion take us through a narrative of physical disorientation and personal exploration.
As we journey through these nonspecific spaces, there is a continual interplay between nature and man-made structures, artistic and religious motifs that reference a bygone age of Romantic self discovery, and people meditatively gazing into space, lost in the architectures of contemporary life.
Throughout the wandering journey we pass doors and stairs apparently leading to nowhere, visit historical artefacts of unknown origin, see Pagan rune stones sitting mystically on a table, and discover an unexplained yet striking scene of a rosary hung on a lonely fencepost, left in the fading light of the countryside. These photographs are regularly punctuated with images of the sky, a pictorial trope Kavanagh keeps coming back to. Ironically, this repetition grounds us in the real world; a familiar constant in a travelogue of uncertainty. We continue to look up, almost in wonder at the skies, a contemplative meditation across those miles of emptiness, into the ether, reminding us “if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” (from Beyond Good and Evil, by Friedrich Nietzsche)
- Guy Archard -