Dirk Braeckman, ECHTZEIT #142-24//AP, 2024 ©Dirk Braeckman

ECHTZEIT #142-24

This is part of Echtzeit. For an introduction from the editors, more here.

Alara Adilow

31 mei 2024 • 3 min

Looking, feeling, understanding, taking root, growing, moving, experiencing, finding, liberating, wrestling with the opposite of the photo and elevating yourself. You want to become. To discover – looking at the photo is dreaming about truths that are as undeniable as houses in the landscape. But let’s be honest – isn’t there a despair in that black and white, the lack of colour? Isn’t there much more to become, isn’t this the real state of our humanity, black and white, and isn’t all that colour just a comic pantomime, a flight? And this brings you eye to eye with a part of the soul. Here I am focussing on the spaces, the surfaces, the broken and erased objects. Obscure and excised. That’s it – the parts of the soul – the photographer imagines our interior world as black and white, yet listeners don’t whisper as black-and-grey surfaces, this is what I have discovered. The whispering is music – arias, trumpets, precussion – and I ask myself how much of what I see and experience is a product of my own imagination, how much catalysed by the photographer’s techniques. Community is symbiosis, but in the paintings all hope of forming a community seems delusory – you are alone and you alone will have to find your path through these dreams, these cut-up scraps of dreams.

How long have I been in this shelter? A week, a year? My whole life? Time consumes itself and vomits itself out. I need to escape this stench and filth. Everything weak and dirty in my body has brought me here to this room where I don’t want to be. My road to a peaceful home seems to be a hole in the ground. I don’t believe I could have prevented this. I don’t believe I ever had a chance to end up somewhere other than here.

Should a work move you, does every photo have a voice? Should a work of art come alive – like an earthworm – at least in memory? Movement through the space – the places, grey, black and white, off-white, steel grey – shadows. Are you searching or do you just want to observe the artist’s search – not what he has found but what motivates him, the direction his search has sent him wandering. Your watching is the artist’s guarantee that his search counts – even if nothing is found. What matters is wanting to search, to find. So often I have stood before work, sir, and been at a loss – take a step back, breathe – a step forward – listen to my heart pound – what passes through me listening to the work of art, but also my body – perceiving the dialogue between the two.

Do you live searching for somewhere you can stay, or do you need somewhere you can stay before you can live? Are you even a person without a home? Without a home are you no more than your digressions, fragmented, a collection of inhospitable locations? Do you not become homelessness when you don’t have a nest to plant your heart, your body? I mean, if you’re living on the street, are you anything more than a hole? Its pain, its home, sometimes that’s the only home you have.

Originally in Dutch.

Translated by David Colmer.

Alara Adilow (born 1988) is a prose writer and poet. She is currently working on her debut novel ‘Kijk es naar al dit licht’, to be published by De Bezige Bij in February 2025. Named literary talent of 2024 by De Volkskrant, she is a Dutch poet of Somali descent. She wrote one of the most striking debuts of recent years with her poetry collection ‘Mythen en stoplichten’ (2022). ‘An intrepid debut’, said the jury that awarded her poetry collection with the Herman de Coninck Prize 2023, the most important Flemish award for Dutch-language poetry. The collection was also awarded the C Buddingh Prize in the same year. The jury praised Mythen en stoplichten’ as a collection about identity, such as you rarely come across. From the jury report: Alara Adilow mixes raw and lyrical into a highly successful cocktail, rich in flavour, bitter and sweet at the same time.

  • Artist contribution