Nothing’s Coming Soon is the first book from young American photographer Clay Maxwell Jordan, and it is a thing of quiet meditative beauty.
Jordan is a native of the state of Georgia in the American South, and it is to his roots that he has chosen to return, for this beautiful and intensely personal look at small town existence. In fact in doing so, it would seem that he has captured a metaphor for life itself.
Hopes, dreams, aspirations…regret…mortality. All frozen in crystalline beauty, and rendered in a gentle beautifully nuanced colour palette. Some images sending out their messages clearly and succinctly, others surreptitiously entreating us to dig a little deeper.
A tangle of corrugated sheeting, a body flopped across a canoe. Within these two images alone the scope of Jordan’s vision is distilled. In fact, what at first may appear random, slowly aligns, and with attention and repeated viewing, distils and deftly presents the artist’s metaphysical intent.
Two images, a man stands atop a post… supported, looking into the distance, at what we do not know…something…someone…or maybe just looking. The cracked tarmac of a parking lot behind him, grass and weeds pushing their way though. This preceded by a skeleton, it’s right arm missing….suspended (hanging) from a wire and facing the other way. This time a beautifully landscaped lawn and house provide the backdrop. Connected ?….the present, the future ? The uncertainty of what is to come, and the trappings of a life lived, scars awarded and goals achieved ? Within these two carefully constructed images an agenda is set….but Jordan is saying nothing. In creating these scenarios he poses questions, forces us to consider, but supplies no answers….the rest is down to us.
Whilst many of the images work beautifully when paired together (A shot looking up through sunlight branches of a tree, against the sleeping body of a boy. curled in darkness, on a bed of cold black tile), others stand alone and impart their visual prose silently. Self contained and with no need of a counterpoint.
People, often present and most effectively photographed in abstract, faces either obscured or just omitted.
A girl waits by a roadside, her beautiful braided hair cascading down her back.
A woman, her legs and shoes the focus of attention. Dressed in funereal black and walking across grass.
Mother and daughters (perhaps) sitting on a wall and gazing in choreographed unity…once again at an unspecified object of attention.
Then, just as many lingering images devoid of people.
A discarded children’s horse ride. It’s head and top half covered in plastic sheeting. A victim of a life of joyous roughhouse affection, or poised, resting, awaiting the return of holidays and sunshine.
A painted mural of a house on a wall, the plaster breaking away in places…a house that never existed… falling apart. Even in fiction, the intrusion of reality.
A smile inducing warning daubed on a fence “Warning Alligators In The Yard”
Throughout the collection, Jordan’s underlying sense of humour is never far away, meaning that his celebration of “just being” encompasses the full range of human emotions. Even the title of the book can be interpreted in one of several ways. It therefore seems only right that one of the most genuinely carefree images is that of a dog, leaping in the air…no worries or burdens…just the joy of being.
Questions posed in a rural provincial town reflecting the preoccupations and uncertainties of the entire world.
Sometimes it seems you have to go home to realise that home is with you wherever you go.
Nothing’s Coming Soon by Clay Maxwell Jordan can be purchased here.
Robin Titchener is a keen, bordering on fanatical photobook collector of thirty years.