This spring season, fragments of amorous discourses gather at the European House of Photography in Paris. The life of love is explored in intimate works: from the first beginning to the splendor of everyday life, from the passion of happy days to the pain of sorrow.
The collective exhibition “Love Songs” reveals the plurality of emotions, history and love events through fourteen photographic series by Nobuyoshi Araki, Nan Goldin, René Groebli, Emmet Gowin, Larry Clark, Sally Mann, Leigh Ledare, Hervé Guibert, Alix Cléo Roubaud, JH Engström & Margot Wallard, RongRong & inri, Lin Zhipeng, Hideka Tonomura and Collier Schorr.
Among the projects presented, three caught our attention: Thierry by Hervé Guibert, who photographs his lover as they are both carriers of HIV, The ballad about sexual addiction by Nan Goldin, which documents his friendships, his violent and addictive loves, and a two-part series by Nobuyoshi Araki, which compares the first and last moment he lived with his wife.
Herve Guibert, Thierry (1976-1991)
1976. Hervé meets Thierry. Hervé is 20 and Thierry is 21. Hervé was born on December 14th and Thierry on December 15th. Hervé is HIV positive and so is Thierry. Fifteen years later, we will always find Thierry in Hervé’s life, which accompanies him in illness and death. Thierry will end up joining Hervé, a year after his death, torn apart by AIDS.
Fifteen years of love. This has been documented by the French author and photographer Hervé Guibert. The two lovers were stricken with the same disease and followed “transformation of [leur] soul” by immortalizing their relationship. In every image of Guibert, who has frozen his illness throughout his life in texts and images, it is always a matter of body and desire. The latter testified that his work only testified“a thing” : “My Beloved.”
We will find Thierry, later under the initial “T.”, in the posthumous book The Mausoleum of lovers by Hervé Guibert, published in 2001: “T. cried in my arms, on my bed, it was worse than the suffocation I got in the area of my heart after someone punctured my lung with a syringe. […] IThere is no doubt about the original character, landmark, the target, the target, the main character in the main story, the only desired visitor “he wrote.
Blindfolded, under a white bridal veil, in the bathtub, in front of a glass of wine, on holiday in Italy, in a living room, reading, one hand resting on a chest … Hervé Guibert photographs these little things that shape the ritual of love, under a soft and dramatic light, with the urgency of living and surviving.
Nobuyoshi Araki, Sentimental journey (1971) and Winter trip (1989-1990)
Sentimental journey and Winter trip constitute a diptych work whose meaning and depth can only be grasped by considering it as a whole. The first series tells of Nobuyoshi Araki’s wedding to his wife Yōko, whom he married in 1971. During their wedding, the couple traveled by train from Tokyo to Yanagawa on the island of Kyushu.
Organized over five days, their honeymoon reveals monochrome portraits of their union, captured with four hands: official photos of their marriage in moments shared during their wedding. The second series, produced from May 1989 to January 1990, testifies to Yōko’s last hours, suffering from an illness that will kill him only 42 years old, and Araki’s grief.
In heartbreaking images, the Japanese artist documents the doctor visits, their cold journey to the hospital, their waiting, their hope, their pain, the tender gestures, life without her, her sad everyday life, his loneliness, his lack, the funeral, his faded face surrounded by flowers. Like a diary.
“Sentimental journey is the fruit of my love and my determination as a photographer. […] I chose love to begin as a photographer, and coincidences wanted this beginning to be a personal novel. […] I have the impression that it is the personal novel that comes closest to photography. “he confides.
This work follows the natural and difficult development of their unspeakable love. Little by little, Yōko disappears from the more and more contemplative images of Araki to make room for their cat, Chiro. One must cling to his heart to see their first and last moments, for better or worse, until death do them part.
Nan Goldin, The ballad about sexual addiction (1973-1986)
IN The ballad about sexual addiction, tells Nan Goldin about thirteen years of his intimate life. In this emblematic project of his career, the American photographer places the public in a voyeur position, as if they were reading her diary and mingling in her most unmentionable thoughts. “To me, photography is the opposite of detachment. It’s one way to touch the other: it’s a caress”she theorizes.
Through a documentary approach, this work depicts his relationship with his friends, his love, his addiction, his excesses and his vices without hiding anything. Taken on the spot, his photos “tender and raw” witness moments of “party, sex, anxiety, drugs, violence” shared with “his tribe”, “his re-created family” and “united by a similar morality: the need to fully live the moment “.
“She questions the boundaries between autonomy and dependence in a couple, a tension that leads to conflicting and often violent relationships. She also examines the relationship to complicity between women or men’s fragility when they are alone.”details about MEP.
Presented for the first time in Europe at the Rencontres de la photographie d’Arles in 1987, accompanied by a playlist, this series inspired MEP to this collective exhibition: its name, “Love Songs”, derives from the “ballad” by Nan Goldin. A playlist also accompanies the Parisian event, which is constructed in the form of an “A-side” that tells about the years 1950 to 2000, and a “B-side” that goes back from the 2000s to today.