Love and Loss Through the Photographer’s Lens

In a thought-provoking exhibition, “Love Songs: Photography and Intimacy” At the International Center of Photography, two photo series by Nobuyoshi Araki are displayed on opposite walls.

In the first “Sentimental Journey” in 1971, Araki chronicles his honeymoon with his young wife, Yoko Aoki. The sequence includes a shot of her undressing and one image of her shows her reaching an orgasm. However, in the most intimate portraits, Aoki is depicted in her clothes, revealing her inner life. In her most poignant scene, she sits in a train compartment, looking to her side with a hint of resignation and premonition. I remembered the last line of Henry James’ The Bostonian. There, her newly engaged heroine breaks down in tears, where the narrator says, “What was feared was… these weren’t the last tears she was destined to shed.”

However, her marriage to Araki seems to have been a happy one. The tears she shed were his. In 1994, Aoki died of ovarian cancer. Mr. Araki chronicled her illness from her hospital room to her coffin and the Shinto altar built in her memory in “Fuyu no Tabi.” The prints are time-stamped, as if each stop on the journey was imprinted on his soul. Many of the photos feature the couple’s cat patrolling, while others feature magnolia flowers. Pets and flowers evoke the souls of deceased wives.

love and loss. What was playing in my head while listening to “Love Song” was the opening song, “People don’t know what love is…until they love the love they’re supposed to lose.” The show features 16 of her artists and is an exhibition at Paris’s European Photo Gallery (MEP), edited by independent curator Sara Raza. Many photographers depict the ending of love. As songwriters recognize, the pain of a breakup seeps into your emotions more than the joy of a happy romance. But what is immediately conveyed in music is elusive in photography. Photography too easily turns the subject into a performer, turning the desired sense of intimacy into a theatrical one.

Scrolling through Instagram and Facebook photos, it feels like the people with their arms folded and laughing happily are actors. Rather, they embarked on such a relationship primarily for publicity. they are impersonating themselves. Carla Girardo Voleau tackles the theme of pseudo-intimacy in 2022’s Another Love Story. Arranged by month, the photos document the artist’s discovery of continuing a relationship her lover told her was over. This installation contains a recording of a phone call between Girard Voleau and another woman who was also kept in the dark.

Emphasizing that both lovers and social media posts about romance are unreliable, Girard Voleau displays photographs of ex-boyfriends whose faces cannot be identified and mixes them with photos taken after a breakup to show that they are hired. It reproduces the old scene with a look like that. similar. Clearly, I didn’t see any difference between the shots of her with her true lover and the shots with the man pretending to be him. In all these photos the subject is acting towards the camera.

In 2010’s Double Bind, Lee Ledair explores the projection of his lover onto the one he loves by photographing his ex-wife in a remote mountain cabin in upstate New York five years after their divorce. I tried to show you if She had recently remarried. Two months later, Redea persuaded her to visit the same residence with her new husband, Adam Fedderley, who was also a photographer, and Fedderly captured her on his camera. . Ledare displays her photographs together, identifying the author by the color of the frame. In the montage, she mixed photos and magazine clippings and added three glass jars of hers filled with more lustrous clippings. This is an ingenious setup that once again demonstrates the ambiguity inherent in photography. I could not distinguish between the visions of the two men.

Intimacy is hard to photograph. Collier Scholl’s posed portraits (many of them nude) of her close collaborator Angel Zinoviev didn’t give me much information. I wasn’t too interested in the artistic shots of Lin Zhipeng’s young male lovers. But I pause wistfully before a series of photographs taken by Hervé Guibert of her boyfriend, Thierry Junot. Both were shot in the late 70’s and 80’s when they were young. There are nude images of Jono, some of which are adult. The most intimate, however, are portraits of Giorno resting his head on a desk as cigarette smoke rises above him, frowning in the mirror, and shot from different distances in a rustic room. In the three posed photos, Giorno stands, heartbreakingly handsome and obviously adored, but his naked body is hidden by a gauze veil. Indeed, part of my interest stems from the knowledge that both Jouno, director of an institute for the blind, and Guibert, a talented writer and photographer, died of AIDS in their mid-thirties. was already arrived.

Sally Mann’s “Proud Flesh” (2003-2009), in which she photographed her husband Larry, who has tardive muscular dystrophy, is also overshadowed by death. She made them with her 19th century wet plate collodion method. At the cutting edge of technology, photographers skillfully overcame the pitfalls of technology, but Mann embraces its shortcomings. As with her naked husband, many of her photos are blemished and bruised. The darkness and blur produced by this archaic process further enhances the pathetic atmosphere.

Elgin Chavshoal’s Silent Glide (2008) and Fouard Elkouri’s On War and Love (2006) both depict romantic farewells against the backdrop of disintegration and conflict. In a 3-channel video directed by Chavshogle, a writer ends an affair with a married publisher. Hereke is a Turkish seaside town that was once known for the production of silk rugs, but now, in addition to carpet manufacturing, it also relies on shipping and shipping. cement factory. Chowshogg pays as much attention to the town’s decline as it does to the fall of the case.

Similarly, in 2006’s On War and Love, Erkouri records in diary form the dissolution of a relationship with a young woman, a breakup that coincided with the Lebanese War in the summer of 2006. Her photos are interspersed with text. She documents Israeli air and naval attacks on Beirut and Erkowry’s emotional turmoil in Istanbul, having traveled from Lebanon in her futile attempts to persuade her lover to stay with her. But far from resonating with each other, these two stories of hers, juxtaposed, kept me away from each other.

In “Love Song,” I wondered if the theatricality of the poses and the ambiguity of the still images would undermine the photography’s ability to document intimacy. Different art forms have different advantages and limitations. Novels are best suited to depict the complex fascinations and transitions of love, which is why many of these artists rely on text alongside images. “Love Songs” is as much about what photography can’t do as it is about what photography can do.

Love Songs: Photos and Intimacy

Through September 11th, International Center of Photography, 79 Essex Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan, icp.org.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button