Picture explanation: Stand Alone

Insomnia is a glamorous term for thoughts you forgot to have in the day.

Alain de Botton

Written in retrospect. Time of the event: Spring 2018. Time of writing: Spring 2019. Time of posting: Spring 2020. I shot this picture in April last year (2018), during what I’d describe as the hardest time of my life, in good conscience. But only now, almost a year later, seeing it leaning against my new home’s wall — framed, magnified, present — I suddenly get why I chose this photo to be my first professional print. It wasn’t coincidental. It was the weight of it’s backstory and meaning that made me choose this image in particular. Karl Lagerfeld once said he liked photography for its ability to capture one moment in time, non-replicably. What if said moment didn’t last only, well, a moment for you? What if one moment in time can stretch over several weeks if not months? For me, it has always felt this way. Looking back, my life is divided into hundreds of phases, moments if you will. So when I look at “Stand Alone” I don’t simply look at a photograph. I look at an era, many short phases pieced together to create a whole, a moment in my time. I see hurt + healing, feelings, positive and negative ones. Negative ones turning into positive ones. I see oceans of tears giving way to long, sunny nature strolls. I see a hazy guise walking through green childhood sceneries, sunken in thoughts, trying to regain peace of mind by putting kilometres behind. Day for day. Week for week. I see someone slowly lifting their gaze and rediscovering so much beauty in nature and the day-to-day, it’s almost overwhelming for a second. I see thoughts questioning thoughts of everything that has been so far. Has it really happened? Or does it just have to be re-examined to unhappen?
I see game-changing gratefulness for everything that exists, everything that belongs. 

Addendum, May 2020: I changed only one word within the previous passage, the rest remains exactly the way I wrote it a year ago. Which one? ‘Enlarged’ was replaced by ‘magnified’. Why? For one, the former sounds rather ambiguous. But more importantly, the latter actually is ambiguous. ‘Magnified’ is a synonym for ‘glorified’, and isn’t that what nostalgia is all about? We glorify the past, despite the sufferings we may have endured, we wish to be able to go back in time, to revisit our favourite moments. What is it about past times that’s so attractive? When contemplating this topic, I got hold of a prominent thought. Maybe what we’re currently living in, is best described as the “age of nostalgia”. Pop-culture is repeating itself: Fashion, music and movies have all been seemingly rotating between 70s, 80s and 90s influences for years (not saying there aren’t exceptions, but even movies with stories set in the present are sporting 80s aesthetics). The current pandemic is surely the pinnacle of this longing for the past, because, honestly, don’t we all want to reset 2020? But I think it has been going on for a lot longer and it actually makes a lot of sense if topics like climate change and the hardly-reversible damage done to the Earth are being brought to the podium. The past is unquestionably tied to a sense of certainty, a kind of comfort zone, where nothing unpredictable ever happens, because every negative or positive outcome has already happened. There’s no fear of making the wrong decisions, the past relieves us of many present pressures, personal or global ones alike. Never has the global future appeared so uncertain, so maybe this pop-cultural relapse is really just a coping mechanism for fear of running out of time. Perhaps, now that humanity has reached the top of the nostalgia mountain, we can collectively jump off it – metaphorically, of course – and embrace the uncertainty of current times with less denial.

A little food for thought. Feel inspired to cook more.

Lary Rauh, black and white film, self portrait
Self-portrait, April 2018