Nothing’s Coming Soon by Clay Maxwell Jordan is a meditation on life, death and the melancholic daydreaming for a better life we find ourselves engulfed by amidst our daily routines.
The title, a play on words as described by the photographer, is multifaceted. It hints at death, frequently pictured in literature and cinema as nothingness and a black abyss, which is also represented by the plastic skeleton hanging on a piece of wire among the greenery surrounding it (which may be interpreted as life). This particular image, an unmistakable and stark memento mori, encompasses the overarching theme in Nothing’s Coming Soon; death is inevitable and it’s often lurking around the corner.
The portraits in the book present people in their own worlds, sometimes seemingly unaware of the lens, but also confronting it with their gaze; a middle-aged gentleman is combing his hair back in a slick fashion, wearing a very casual t-shirt contrasting with his blazer; a blue-eyed elderly woman is wearing presumably her best attire and jewellery, although she looks distressed, almost in a state of shock.
In other images, we see alternative portraits shot from behind and not exhibiting the face, which we have been conditioned to believe is the only correct way of creating a portrait. I find these pictures most engaging as they spur all sorts of thoughts and associations – I immediately create numerous possible facial expressions and ways this person might look from the front.
Spreads from Clay Jordan’s Nothing’s Coming Soon (Fall Line Press, 2019)
The other aspect of the title suggests the commonly held belief, especially in America, that there’s an instant overnight cure to almost all our troubles. People have come to believe that this enormous change that will transform their lives for the better is not only possible, but it’s at arm’s length, which in most cases is a misconception. Nothing’s Coming Soon, if read in this manner, implies that the status quo is prevalent and time is needed for change to happen. Moreover, Jordan suggests that problems and difficulties are not necessarily something to be resolved, but they can be, at times, embraced and accepted as lessons to be learnt.
Jordan discusses the influence of music on his work; the founder of a rock band, he is interested in incorporating music into future art projects and installations. This is an exciting concept and something that photography, frequently described as a purely visual art form, currently lacks. Numerous artists, such as Sophie Calle and Duane Michals, among many others, have demonstrated the complexities that arise when combining photography with text, and I would argue that the same could happen when music is introduced.