I’m nothing

Tonight, I joined a cyber life drawing – I don’t like life drawing too much as I get bored very quickly – and as I waited for the next pose I started drawing my studio and mapping my whereabouts in it.

I have been thinking how I still haven’t had space in my head to actually make work. Then I found this poem by Alvaro de Campos called “The Tobacco Shop” – actually Fernando Pessoa heteronym. The poem is very nihilist. It’s about being nothing and keeping on being nothing because he decides not to write down his thoughts, however he has all the dreams of the world.

I feel I’m warming up to something. There’s a momentum coming – what I call the wave. But, I normally don’t sit and wait for the wave to come. I tend to paddle slowly, constantly in order to make sure I don’t miss it. So last night, after listening and reading the poem many times I started writing. But I feel scared. The typical artist fear: always wanting to be exposed but also afraid of being too vulnerable.

I wrote about this fear with calligraphy quill and ink, then erased it with water. I like the result, it reminds me of the white chalk on black paper painting I showed in the Cookhouse, in February.

I’m also researching water where I live, as I’ve been commissioned to do this video installation based on water. I’m not sure if it’ll be realised but nevertheless, today I started filming.

“I am nothing 
I shall never be anything
I cannot want to be anything.
Aside from that, I have within me all the dreams of the world.”

If you want to listen to Alvaro de Campos poem being read in Portuguese – though from Brazil


And here is the translation:


12 thoughts on “I’m nothing

  • Great stuff Dani. There seems to be a strong thread running through your work related to erasure. e.g. the text erased by water (‘writ on water’ Where does that phrase come from?)
    Obvs we are all a little concerned that without normal social interaction we become a neutralised invalidated questionable presence.
    I was previously discussing the Polanski film ‘Repulsion’ as an exploration of this, and only just realised that film is basically an updating of the the novel ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Yellow_Wallpaper Seen by some as of an early exploration of ‘gaslighting’.
    But go easy on the nihilism; it’s a little addictive.

    • Nah…I thrive on Nihilism. I got so hooked up on it when I was 18 after reading Nietzsche whilst listening to The End by The Doors, that nothing can beat that hehehe
      Thanks for the concern though 😉
      I’ll definitely have a go at Keats. What a great epitaph!

    • Thanks for the link. Really like the work and it reminds of an old idea I never put in practise: get library books and make a piece out of the marks left by the readers, underlined texts or notes

  • I’ve always felt the same about life drawing.
    I also feel the same senses of fear of kind of wanting to be out there and but not feeling like I am “enough”. Or feeling like “nothing”… sometimes I almost feel like I would like to be “nothing”.

    And I’m also a total nihilist and I always try to get out of that feeling but as Jeff said it is addictive.

  • Lovely to be able to read that Pessoa poem
    ‘I throw the dirty laundry that is me, in a washing-list, unto the course of things,
    And stay home shirtless.’
    Do you think it is ‘nihilistic’, or a somehow more considered stance in relation to imagination and ‘the world’?
    But a brilliant little twist at the end, a small reconnection.

  • Brilliant! It sounds like you are joining all your dots for sure. I always wonder if I could miss out the paddling bit and still get there but I’m never brave enough to risk it.

    • I know what you mean, sometimes I stop paddling a bit but feel either guilty or unsure I’ll get anytwhere so I paddle again 😉


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