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Photography as a caress

“For me, photography is the opposite of detachment. It is a way of touching the other: it is a caress.” This magnificent definition of photography in the form of a declaration of love by Nan Goldin is a beautiful entry into the intimacy of the love scenes presented at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie. 

Photography as a caress: Caress of the eyes more immortal than that of the hand? Caress of the skin transposed in the grain of the paper? Caress of the soul floating in a glance (lost or distraught), abandoning itself or abyssing in an embrace, folding up on itself, in its heart, or clinging to hands… 

Coiled body, languid body, bruised body… 

Bodies offered, bodies promised, bodies consumed… 

Here are the bodies photographed through the distorting prism of love, or desire. Fourteen series by some of the greatest photographers of the 20th and 21st centuries, presented as Love Songs

Inspired by Nan Goldin’s “Ballad” (The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1979-1986), the exhibition is indeed “conceived as a musical compilation that one would offer to one’s lover” with, on side A, the series from the 1950s to 1990s, and on side B, the images from the 1980s to nowadays (designed by Emmet Gowin, Larry Clark, Sally Mann, RongRong & Inri, and Lin Zhipeng).

In 1952, René Groebli photographed his muse with L’oeil de l’amour, and his pictures, full of tenderness and modesty – a nape of the neck peeking out of a white blouse, a hand smoking on the edge of the bed, the naked back of his sleeping beauty… – are like poems. “If I had been a writer, I probably would have gone to the nearest café to write love poems. For me, the photographs just showed that I loved her,” the Swiss photographer said of this series taken during his honeymoon. Having the same object, the series realized in 1971 by Nobuyoshi Araki allows us to see a strange archaeology of the intimate. Although drawn from his “personal novel,” his Sentimental Journey operates a strange distancing from its subject transformed into self-fiction, as if the theme of love had led the Japanese photographer to a reflection on the very essence of photography as a staging. It is an erotic staging of desire, but also of loss and the passage of time, whose cold frontality puts us face to face with our own unfulfillments, touched by this exposure to the deepest of the intimate…

Exhibition Love Songs Photographs of the intimate

From March 30 to August 21

MEP – Maison Européenne de la Photographie – 5-7, rue de Fourcy, Paris IV – www.mep-fr.org

And also

Nobuyoshi Araki Exhibition 

At the Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection – www.pinaultcollection.com

Until March 14th

Stéphanie Dulout