Nothingness

Kamal Obat

The Nothingness series celebrates the life of a fisherboy, whose power is evident in his mastery of an element as essential but as tricky, as water.

Nothingness is often put down and associated with negative conditions such as poverty, illiteracy, and so on.

Once, at an exhibition, I described the boy in the image as ‘The King of Nothingness’ and it was gruesomely misunderstood as the King of Failure/Hardship. That’s because the idea of having nothing frightens us. To have all we have achieved and all our efforts wiped is absolutely terrifying to humankind and that is the fundamental reality. But if one only thinks of the idea of nothingness as mere blankness, and holds on to this idea, then they haven’t understood it.

These fishermen or farmers are considered ‘nothings’ in the society, yet the mastery of their element ensures our continued survival. To go ahead and describe nothingness is to define something-ness, but to quote Kalu Rinpoche’s principle: “We live in illusion and the appearance of things. There is a reality. We are that reality. When you understand this, you see that you are nothing, and being nothing, you are everything. That is all.”

The ‘nothingness’ I am projecting is an absolute infinite potential, not just an empty, hopeless box where dreams are mocked and efforts are unacknowledged. To emphasise nothingness in my photographs, the blue background was introduced to give a strong impression of the sky and the body of water. The white-space signifies a void, where the sky meets the earth, also where an infinite potential lies.

The whole collection of images celebrates the Kings and Masters of Nothingness, the hard-working and often underprivileged children.

Kamal Obat is a Nigerian artist who works and lives in Nigeria. He is passionate about learning and creating visually pleasing images mostly from photographs he captured with his mobile phone or DSLR Camera. He is passionate about taking pictures and converting them into a finer piece of art. His art is hugely inspired by his daily activities, his personality and mood. It is, for him, a poignant way to archive and express his existence.