Book Review: Either Limits or Contradictions
By Liz Von Klemperer
Nick Meyer’s book Either Limits or Contradictions came out on April 11 of this year from Daylight Press, and we’re still thinking about it. After experiencing the losses of both his artistic mentor, Larry Sultan, as well as his father, Meyer channeled his grief into an arresting swatch of images, from starkly lit portraits to lightening cracking across a desolate sky. His images are often of the mundane, but communicate heartbreak as Meyer casts his eye on fleeting moments and objects that are often passed over, unnoticed and unappreciated.
Meyer’s book is comprised of three chapters, which represent the passage of time and human life. The first chapter, "We Won’t Need Bright Light, Gonna Make Our Own Lightening", is about the seemingly indefatigable rigor of youth. It’s about “creating what you want and not caring,” Meyer said in an interview with TIME. The second chapter, "Heavenly Weather", is about slowing down and appreciating often-unappreciated beauty. The image, "Extension Cords", is a striking example, as dramatic light is cast upon an object that is usually meant to facilitate photography, as opposed to being the focus of it. "Paper Plate Face" is similarly tragic, as it encapsulates a piece of detritus meant to represent happiness. Although the cutout is meant to convey an ideal, it is ultimately disposable. If we look close enough, as Meyer has done, we can find beauty in unexpected places.
The last chapter, titled "Mists and Exhalations", focuses on the end of life. Where the viewer expects the morbid, Meyer instead provides references to the cyclical nature of existence. Meyer’s photos are rooted in images of the earth. In "Will with Mud on His Feet", for example, we see a young man by a body of water, which traditionally represents regeneration. It is an image that represents youth and communion with nature, while also pointing to the inevitability of our return to dirt.
Viewers will gravitate towards the universality of the themes in Meyer’s work. He is, after all, taking pictures of ordinary things. “There's nothing that makes me special,” he told TIME. “And that's sort of the point. We all experience things. We are all looking for that relatability.” You can get your copy here.