Clay Maxwell Jordan is a photographer who has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally. He is a 2019 MacDowell fellow and currently resides in Athens, Georgia. His first monograph, "Nothing's Coming Soon", was published by Fall Line Press in February, 2019.
PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: Nothing's Coming Soon
Rarely do I venture out with a subject in mind to photograph — usually I walk or drive around until I see something that compels me to stop, analyze, and possibly photograph for later perusal. Over time, the editing process yields a series of images that coalesce into a body of work with specific themes or preoccupations. With regards to my last completed series, "Nothing's Coming Soon", themes included aging, mortality, and decay.
After editing and sequence this work, I realized the Buddhist saying "Life is suffering" could encapsulate these pictures; I was visually documenting two traits all humans share: mortality and unrelenting desire.I do not intend for these images to be morbid or pessimistic, but rather hopeful by showing the beauty inherent in decay and the hard-won knowledge gained from experience.
When and where did Nothing's Coming Soon begin?
There was no conscious decision to begin this project – I simply walked around with my camera and photographed what I found interesting or noteworthy. It was only after amassing a large number of negatives that I began to notice themes and motifs emerging that could be sequenced together to form a cohesive body of work.
Where do you see this project going?
This project deals with such expansive existential issues (death, desire, mortality) , so I am sure these preoccupations will continue into future work. Many artists have one or two themes they explore their entire career, with only slight alterations from project to project. Perhaps my next project will be similar, but from a different point of view or methodology. I admit that I am struggling a bit at the moment with what to do next so I am just shooting everyday and waiting for something to click.
Congratulations on publishing this series as a monograph! What was your experience like making the book?
Making a photo book was an immensely rewarding process in which I learned so much about design, editing, and sequencing from my co-editor and founder of Fall Line Press, Bill Boling. Many photographers are not the best editors of their work, so it was hugely beneficial to have someone who I trusted and felt like understood my work as co-editor. After a certain point, it's hard to see one's own work with fresh eyes, so it's invaluable to get outside feedback. My work functions best as a series and making a photobook was the ideal vehicle for presenting my images. I can't wait to make another.
What helps you sustain your current creative practice?
Allotting a certain amount of time each week to go photograph is key for me. Perhaps it's similar to an athlete going through a warmup routine or a dancer stretching. Even when the outings do not yield any usable images, it keeps my eye sharp and active. And honestly, it's hugely enjoyable exploring different areas and neighborhoods that I normally might not traverse. Also, looking at my favorite photo books or films is hugely inspiring and encourages me to continue.
What’s next for you?
I just got back from the the MacDowell residency in New Hampshire, which was insanely wonderful. I have another residency at Anderson Ranch in Colorado that begins in October. A few of my images are currently in traveling exhibitions with the Royal Photographic Society and PhotoFilmic. I had a solo show for this work in Atlanta when the book was released, but I am working on trying to get a solo show outside of the South by year's end.
What other artists should we be keeping an eye on?
One photographer I really love right now is Michael Northup who had a book out with J and L a few years ago called "Babe". His snapshots are humorous and puzzling in equal measure. I also like the photobook "Reading Raymond Carver" by Mary Frey which came out in 2017 and Feng Li's "White Night". Also: any and every movie by the Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos who is by far the most exciting director of the new century.
Everyone is going crazy about the latest Netflix/HBO/Hulu series or show (Big Little Lies, Game of Thrones, etc.) but I personally don't have the stamina; I have instead reverted back to old movies, which right now - perhaps because they trigger my nostalgia and depict an infinitely simpler time without the distractions of technology - are perfect for me. A few of my recent faves: "Scarlet Street", "Sweet Smell of Success", "In a Lonely Place", "Ace in the Hole".
And of course, music: The Chromatics, Black Marble, LCD Soundsystem