Photographs by Jordan Sullivan with text by Eugene Ionesco
OUT OF PRINT
The long silence of days dying off. No song of lament. Following trails of last light. Speaking with phantoms. All is a mirage. All is blooming. We work, and we rejoice in our failure.
I’ve been in this sad office for three sad years. After hours there’s been drinking and drugs to dull the the pain, as if things weren’t dull enough. I was driving life off a cliff, and then I saw a light, flashing strange in the distance.
These are photographs from that sad office. I’ve have had countless day jobs, and this one has easily been the most boring. Strangely an element of shame comes with this particular job as well - after all, the cliche tells us that aritsts should not have corporate jobs, that’s selling out, giving in. I’ve kept my life as an office worker relatively secret for the last few years. The job provides me much of the funding I need to produce my art.
I don’t win awards or grant money, so I work. Most of my art up until this little booklet sought to look beyond my immediate surroundings. For the first time in many years I have been suddenly compelled to look at this place right in front of me, the place where I spend the majority of my days, the place that is saving and ruining me.
The office is far from beautiful. It is not photogenic in any conventional sense. It’s insides are a gruesome off-white, the concrete floors are stained the color of shit, and everything is shrouded in a piss blanket of fluorescent light. My days are filled with emails, spreadsheets, countless documents, pointless meetings, conversations that end where they began, existential crisis’, constant feelings of failure and inadequacy, searching the internet to see which peers (and there are many) are far more successful in their art careers than me, and of course there is the occasional thought of suicide. It took me
over two years to bring a camera inside this place, and it wasn’t until then that I began to see. After all, the real light inside all things stays hidden, and that’s the light that’s worth hunting. I’ve begun to catch flashes of it, the scent of it, but maybe it is just a mirage. Still, I’ve come to believe in it - the light, flickering in through the boredom of this dead space - so I move toward it.
These images are a love letter to the death thoughts and the dead days that have haunted me for so long. Life goes on and on and for most of us it’s a boring and lonesome journey uphill - a gigantic void sprinkled with moments of happiness and maybe love. I cling to those moments now, and I find the more I open myself up to exploring this void the better off I am.
The fragments of text scattered throughout this mess are taken from The Hermit - the lone novel by that grandfather absurdist Eugene Ionesco. The work is largely forgotten, as the best things usually are. The book fell into my lap quite randomly as a teenager in a used book store in Toronto. I was taken by its bright sun-yellow cover. I didn’t know anything about Eugene Ionesco, but I was a fan of the Detroit hardcore band Thoughts of Ionesco, so I suppose I can thank them for sparking in me some vague curiosity. I read the book sometime later that year. The rat race, the solitude, and the existential dilemnas described therein were of a sort I was too inexperienced to truly understand. Now as a fucked-up adult, with too many problems to list, I fear I know them all too well.
So here is life and here is death, and we are somewhere in between. Hang in there, wherever you are, and take a good long look at that ugly, boring, tragic, sad, dizzying, and dull comedy right in front of you. It might be the most beautiful thing you ever see.
Jordan Sullivan Los Angeles, 2015