Originally organised by the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP) in Paris, the exhibition in NYC was put together by curator and writer Sara Raza. This unique collective show provides a fresh lens to relationships by examining love through a myriad of points of view. As the museum puts it, Love Songs brings together “the leading photographers of our time that explore love, desire and intimacy in all their most complex and contradictory ways.” From the heart-breaking series by Nobuyoshi Araki where he portrays his wife’s final months to the more carefree pictures of an ideal Paris honeymoon by René Groebli, to the documentation of a fifteen-year relationship by Hervé Guibert or one of RongRong&inri’s earliest series recounting how the duo ended up together.
Lin Zhipeng (No. 223) demonstrates the experimentation with the color red, which is found throughout his collection titled Photographed Colors of Love (2005-2021). The cherries, the bathwater, the flower petals, the bedsheets, and a subject’s lips all show the embodiment of romance. Furthermore, Zhipeng uses this to tell the story of exploring sexuality in China free of taboo and scrutinisation.
In Leigh Ledare’s Double Bind (2010), he photographs his ex-wife in a country cabin. He, then, had her current partner replicate his photographs, which resulted in multiple, similar shots of his ex-wife. Double Bind depicts the perception of the same woman from different men who share different relationships with her. It also illustrates the mature and healthy relationship between a couple and one of their past partners.
Winter Journey (1989-1990) is an example of how backstory details like time of photo play a significant part in attributing to a deeper meaning to the collection. Nobuyoshi Araki documented his wife’s final months before her death at forty-two years old. The series follows as the ecstasy of Araki’s love transforms into pure tragedy. Also, Winter Journey was one of the projects that inspired the curation of Love Songs: Photography and Intimacy.