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Henry Chapman, “Bad News” (2019), watercolor and ink on paper, 20 x 17 inches (courtesy the artist)

Bad News

The day the Mueller Report was announced, I thought: more bad news. What a surprise. But on second thought, it was a surprise. Unfortunately, I am the sort of person who carries hope with me. Hope is like the real photograph I keep folded in my real wallet that has, over the course of several years, separated along the seam.

The photograph was given to me by someone who said, as we were hugging goodbye, “I love you.” In that moment of heightened emotion, I said it back and, I think, felt it. It was the last time we ever saw each other. Love is frequently disappointing, because people are rarely as we hope them to be. I ignore that to my detriment. No one involved in our politics, maybe Mueller most singularly, conveys emotional complexity. How could there have ever been any hope?

The photograph is old and in bad shape. It’s an elevated shot of a busy avenue, with old-fashioned cars next to a large public plaza that is, at the same time, a waterfront. It’s a beautiful image, if a little vague, and its subject is, as it is with many old photographs, longing. And this is the case partly because of the romance in which it was given to me. But I don’t carry it in my wallet out of longing for that person, or with any meaning attached. I just keep it there.

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Henry Chapman

Henry Chapman is an artist from New York currently living in Los Angeles. You can find more about him at henrychapman.com.