Without Form and Void is a biblical description of the Beginning. It describes an emptiness moments before the world came into being; a blank canvas teeming with possibility. In this spirit of unbounded potential, we put out the call to a growing community of artists, to sit before their blank canvases, both physical and digital, and take part in the act of creation.
What we received was exceptional. Out of the void emerged meditations on life and its cycles, synesthetic descriptions of nature, and subversions of structure and form. The poetry, prose, and visual artwork within demonstrates the theme’s diverse range of artistic interpretations. However, certain motifs–whimsy, despair, wonder, and chaos–are apparent.
Visual artists explore distortion, especially of the human form, obscuring faces behind masks, depicting bodies in rapturous ascent or perilous freefall, and capturing candid moments in the lives of unassuming subjects. Bodies of water are prominently featured, both as homes teeming with life and as vast empty spaces, full of mystery and danger lurking just below the surface. Vibrant colors contrast with black and white images, offering two complementary perspectives, which are echoed in the written contributions.
The poets are nonplussed, grasping for meaning amidst calls for civil war. In response to the chaos, some embrace strict structure, while others cast aside convention entirely. Considerations of time and nature’s cycles are prevalent, as are ruminations on the inherent absurdity of existence. Language plays an important role in articulating this madness–a digital sign addressed in English and Spanish responds in German; classrooms full of immigrants making meaning out of Hebrew slang. Music reminds us that the chaos of disparate sounds colliding is often exactly how something wholly original and authentic is able to emerge.
The prose offerings are united in their exploration of time and memory. In the void, recollections of childhood adventures tether us to this world, helping us to make meaning and preserve those we have lost in a kind of imperfect afterlife. Seasons mark tempo in this unconducted symphony. Major characters in winter may disappear come spring and be replaced altogether come fall. Ultimately, our authors stress that it is the story we tell ourselves, about ourselves, which has the power to undermine our grandest visions or raise us to impossible new heights. In the void, each of us is responsible for the form it takes.
We are immensely grateful to our thirty-seven contributors who entrusted us with their work and made this issue possible. To our readers, we hope you find something of yourself in the pages within.
The WRITE-HAUS team