‘What helps?’ Asked photographer Robert Adams in Why People Photograph, a book for all seasons. It referred to what helps artistic practice, the aspect of life conducive to creation. The question chased me during the quarantine, after seeing Teju Cole address it to his followers in March. Many people responded, some talking about friends, about grandparents; others in books, others, depressed, alone, or on the verge of suicide. And then, Adams’ question ceased to concern artists to embrace the time allotted to us, what we do while we’re alive, the way we live our lives. What helps? If we think about things like that, on the scale of our presence in the world? What helps us in this time when we are alive? Repeating this question like someone who repeats a chorus has led me to think that asking it implies recognizing that needing help is a condition of those who are alive, of those born for a lifetime.
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