Images of Absence

A collaborative exhibition
2024-06-20 / Piko / CC BY-SA 4.0 / philosophy, art

Collected pictures and thoughts of absence

Give every image some moments and thoughts as if you were strolling through a gallery.

AWOL – Missing stuff

Foto einer mechanischen Tastatur ohne Switches oder Kappen. Artist: CC0

Foto eines Pizzateigs ohne Belag. CC0

Denk dir ein Trüffelschwein –

denks wieder weg […]

Was je ein Mensch gedacht,

lässt eine Spur.

Reading traces

CCBYSA_dadada_rail.jpg Missing rail. CC-BY-SA

CCBYSA_dadada_rail.jpg A blurry image of a negative corona test. CC-BY-SA

Jacques Derrida conceptualizes words as traces of traces; citations of citations. This makes all language, especially in written form, a form of absence. The original meaning is always missing, and the context is always incomplete.

CC0-winnie7.jpg a sandy path between dunes ends in a puddle which reflects the cloudy sky. in the foreground are tracks from a heavy vehicle which end up in the water. no people or animals or signs of civilization are visible. Artist: CC0

an open wooden box filled with straw. The straw is compressed in a circular shape, but it’s not clear which circular object was there before. Artist:

Am Tag, an dem das         verschwand,

da war die uft vo Kagen.

Amenthes.png Leerer Klopapier-Halter. Artist: CC0

an empty compartment in a bookshelf. Artist: Anonymous. CC0

Ein Loch ist ein Nichts mit Rand. (A hole is a nothing with an edge.)

feuchtes schütteres Haar

Stolen Goods

Jawlenskys Gemälde Der gelbe Topf nachgemalt, allerdings ist vom Topf nur ein weißer Umriss mit Fingerabdrücken zu sehen. CC-BY-NC

Foto einer angeknabberten Zucchini im Beet. CC0

CCBYSA_JayJulez_socks.jpg Two rows of colorful single socks (eight in total). CC-BY-SA

Missing Choice

photo of setting up Android in German. next step is unlocking by facial recognition. it shows an accept button (“Ich stimme zu”) but no decline button. Artist: CC0

Image descriptions

The artists for this exhibition have been reached out to via Mastodon. This means that it not only represents the main theme of absence, but also the culture of this particular social network. Even though the images were meant to be sent directly to the coordinator, almost every one of them had an image description.

The image descriptions in this exhibition are extracted from the image descriptions on Mastodon. If you wish to enhance a description to an image, please feel free to contact piko. More thoughts on this by betalars.


Foto eines leeren Regals in einem Supermarkt. Es ist ca. 6m breit und es sind Preisschilder an den Kanten der Böden. Rechts und links ist jeweils ein bisschen eines gefüllten Regals zu sehen. Artist: Lena Schimmel. CC0 Noch ein leeres (Brot-)Regal in einem Supermarkt, darüber ein Schild “Backwaren”. Artist: Lena Schimmel. CC0

Absence is normative: Something should be there, but it isn’t. Normally, there would be something. It is missing.

photo of two cats impatiently prancing around an empty food bowl. CC0

Impending Doom – Water

The climate catastrophe is mostly felt by things that are too much, but there are also absences.

Nature photo with vibrant over-saturated Colors.
In the middle of the photo, a cut down Tree shoots up against a messy background. Many thick branches rise up from the root to the top of the tree, becoming steeper and longer the further they branched off from the root. It almost looks more like a Comet than a tree trunk.
The bark of the tree is grey and the exposed wood at the top almost glows orange.
The tree is surrounded by dense blueish undergrowth and stands in front of a thin line of trees in over exaggerated autumn colors. A bright white sky shines trough their leafs. CC-BY-SA

Cannot come back, the path is absent.

Breite Rinne, wo ein von Hochwasser komplett weggespülter Wanderweg war. CC-BY-SA a flooded path with a row of leafless willows next to it. there are two empty wooden benches in the middle of the water, unreachable with dry feet. the grey sky reflects in the water. the visible ground is very muddy and contains some bicycle tracks. there are no people, nor animals in the foreground. Artist: CC0 dry, rocky river bed with a few conifers inside a very steep valley. the landscape appears dry and hot in general. horizon cannot be seen because of high mountains. no people nor any signs of civilization can be seen. Artist: CC0

Missing Persons

Absence is twofold: It needs a percieved subject (or object) – which is missed – and a percieving subject – who misses.

A photo of a double bed with black bed frame and pale bedding. It is taken from the perspective of one side, looking across at the other pillow. The room is dark and the pillow is illuminated by the camera flash. The pillow has a clear indent where a head has rested, but there is no sign of the person now. CC-BY-SA

empty wooden table with three empty chairs between two house walls and in front of a balcony. ceiling and floor are dark. in the background, behind the balcony there is an open, green landscape with several large flat buildings. at the horizon there is an ocean with orange strip from sunset. Artist: CC0

I would prefer not to. (Bartleby the Scrivener, Herman Melville)

CC0-anon_chairs.jpg two empty office chairs turned towards each other in front of a desk in an office. Artist: Anonymous. CC0

wmd_shoes.jpg A sqare full of shoes with missing owners.

Night series




CCBYSA_mayz6.jpg Four photos of empty streets at night, the lights of the streetlamps is slightly scatterd by fog. CC-BY-SA mayz

Before and after the fact

Hamburg Speicherstadt during low tide. CC-BY

Empty concert stage in blue light, there’s a Ukrainian flag on it. CC-BY CC0_neonmate.jpg Bild einer leeren Theater-Bühne mit einer Projektionsleinwand auf der in großen grünen Buchstaben PAUSE projiziert ist, die Vorhänge im Hintergrund sind in lila-blaues Licht getaucht. Artist: CC0

Empty dusty PC case. CC-BY

CCBYSA_javahippie.jpg An empty flat without furniture. A pack of water bottles is sitting on the floor, the refrigerator is opened, empty and turned off. CC-BY-SA

CCBYSA_JayJulez_bottle.jpg An empty cola bottle on a shelf. CC-BY-SA

The view through the door of a washing machine into an empty drum. Artist: Mike, First of his Name. CC0

CCBYSA_fred-eric.jpg Eine raumhohe, spiralförmige Betonsäule ragt in ein rundes Loch in der Decke eines Unterstandes. Davor stehen Austeller mit teils bunten Zetteln. CC-BY-SA Fred-Eric

Things and Persons of the Past

analog picture almost neatly cut in half, left side is white, somewhat uneven border in yellow and red, on the right side a nice dutch wind mill with modern street signs. Artist: Anonymous. CC0

wmd_spits.png A black and white photo of an empty crossing, a little house stands at the corner, after which the sea and mountains begin. The little house is the fiber entry point for Longyearbyen.

Lost places series

CCBYNCSA_traumweh1.jpg Photograph of a hole in a wall, revealing a room with an open window, filled with rubble, and parts of the collapsed ceiling hanging from one corner. The room is only lit by the camera flash through the hole, overexposing the wall surrounding the hole. The photograph is mainly composed of whites and greys. CC-BY-NC-SA by traumweh

CCBYNCSA_traumweh2.jpg Photograph of a dark, old and dirty hallway, lit up only by the camera flash. The hallway ends with a window and multiple doorways are located on both walls. On the left hand side, a wire hangs above the doorways. The parts of the walls which are higher than the doorways as well as the ceiling are painted white, the rest green. The floor is bare concrete. It gives off a sort of creepy, horror like feeling. CC-BY-NC-SA by traumweh

CCBYNCSA_traumweh3.jpg Naturally lit photograph of a large ruined structure. Multiple damaged wooden and concrete wall-type structures are situated ruffly three metres above ground and are about 20 to 25 metres wide. They connect to wood-covered walls at the sides. The floor is overgrown with grass, with some holes peeking through, exposing some of the structure below. Some smaller needle trees are spread around the area. The area extends at least one hundred metres away from the point of view. The tone of the image seems desaturated and colourless, with the only colour coming from the plants and the bits of brown from the wood. CC-BY-NC-SA by traumweh

Remember me! (Dido’s Lament, Henry Purcell)

view across a street with four lanes and a green strip in the middle. on the other side there is a partially demolished empty building. the facade including all windows is missing. it’s possible to look through some of the doors. there is a construction side fence around the building and small trees on both sides of the street. the sky is mostly blue with some faint clouds. Artist: CC0

CC0-winnie6.jpg blurry, low quality image of a dark corridor. in the front there is a table with a notebook and a chair with a sweatshirt. in the background there are a few tiles removed from the floor and a dark passage. on the walls there are a few posters and big, colorful lights which reflect on the poster frames, ceiling, and floor. no person can be seen. Artist: CC0


scene in a garden: empty basin for a little pond next to a mossy wall of big uneven rocks. there are three buckets filled with soil on the left side, a spade, and two bags of sand. on the right side are several green plants. on top of the basin is a plank with a level. it generally looks very unfinished. Artist: CC0

There are two ways to end absence: Forgetting and Returning.

More to come

There are still a few pictures I want to add to this exhibition, but done is better than perfect, so expect to see some additions until mid-July 2024.


Send a message to on Mastodon!