Friday, April 24, 2009

Sudek's "Labyrinth in My Atelier"

This time of year the increasing sunlight streaming through the windows of my house reveals dirty streaks on the glass, dust on the tables, the spider webs on the chair rungs, the chips in the paint, the smudges on the kitchen cabinets, the piles of old paper, even the grit in the corners, but when I look at Josef Sudek's photograph, "Labyrinth in My Atelier," I forget about tidiness and dirt.

Instead of spring cleaning--not that I do much--I peer into his labyrinth.  The fabulous foreign musty filth of it all!  (Click on photo to enlarge.)  The candles lead me in. If you look closely, you can see that at one time he did light them: melting wax made those slightly wavering lines.  Dangerous: lit candles on that altar banked by nests of paper.  To the right of the candles is an icon of the Virgin, a cup whiter than wax, a clock.  What time was it?  Where is the light coming from?  Did he sit here and drink from that cup?  Did he pray?  What was written on all that paper piled up to the ceiling?  There must be something in the pocket of that garment.  I want to open the drawer on the right.  The detail is as immeasurable as a coastline, the outline of a tree in full leaf.  The detailed accumulation fascinated him.  It does me!



  1. What a wonderful photograph. I too would rather peer into this labyrinth than spring clean. There is filth and there is fabulous filth.

  2. Yes, this is fabulous filth! You appreciate the difference! I don't know whether we can create fabulous filth here in the states. Sudek's dirty mess seems utterly foreign, as cluttered as the Jewish cemetery in Prague.