Tim Farrington On Creativity, Depression, And The Dark Night Of The Soul
There is no question in my own mind that periods of depression are often associated with artistically productive periods. Breakthroughs in creative work usually come when the tried-and-true approaches fail. We are looking for a new method, because the old methods aren’t working, and so there is the fear of not knowing what to do, of going beyond familiar territory. Creativity often flourishes in a state of uncertainty that approaches desperation. There is a sense of helplessness as well, and a sharp awareness of needing something that you don’t have. The breakdown of certainties is also fertile breeding ground for depression.
A human body on fire on a quiet street in a safe European city is a scene your mind is remarkably unequipped to comprehend. You see it first through the clear back panel of the bus-stop shelter as you get off the bus: Just a pile of something burning. Much bigger than a campfire. Perhaps a bonfire to keep the homeless warm.
What they all have in common is a weakness: an inability to say no to a deeply imprinted call — a call to poverty, chastity, and obedience, strange virtues that had to be flushed out from their hiding places, shown to us, and somehow made desirable. We’re men who, for the most part, had good jobs and degrees but were brought low by something many of us hadn’t really asked for, and to which we all eventually yielded. In the end concession and surrender may be our greatest accomplishments.
The sun has never felt as good as it does when I finally step out of that jailhouse and into a beautiful Friday morning, the air smelling a little like jasmine, a little like the ocean; happy weekend smiles on all the faces in the windows of a passing bus; and the mountains sitting right there, like they sometimes do, looking close enough to touch.
Kalischer documented the arrival of Holocaust refugees to the U.S. in the late 1940s, and over the next several decades he traveled throughout Europe and the U.S. capturing everyday scenes from people’s lives. The images on these pages depict art students and artists in New England and New York from the 1950s through the 1980s.