MEP celebrates love in pictures

The neck is long and the face is hidden. Out of modesty, out of spite, perhaps out of boredom, Rita Dürmüller, short hair and white boys shirt, avoids the gaze of René Groebli sitting on the unmade bed of a hotel in Montparnasse. Elsewhere, she smokes, sleeps naked, puts on makeup, does her work in front of her husband’s lens, a privileged witness to her charming, ordinary actions and gestures. The eye of love (The eye of love, 1952) is the clever and sensual souvenir album from a honeymoon spent between Paris and Marseille. It was he who opened “Love Songs” at MEP, a choral exhibition that brings together photographs like so many hymns to love, tunes of lost happiness.


An emotional landscape

A salute to mixtapes exchanged between lovers “, specifies its curator Simon Baker, director of MEP, who in these selected pieces sees the safest way to mix, by” a kind of grant “, i” the emotional landscape of people we know through words, and the thoughts of people we do not know “The idea for Groebli did not come from him, but from Pascal Hoël, head of the house’s photography collection:” I fell in love with this diary that was true to the classic and yet radical aesthetics of the 1950s. If it’s not unprecedented – just think of the snapshots Lartigue took in the roaring twenties of his first wife Bibi – then Groebli is one of the first to title and perceive his series as a whole, a statement. It announces herein a wide range of concepts conveyed by Sentimental journey of Araki, or The ballad about sexual addiction by Nan Goldin “.

Nan Goldin, Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City, 1986, from the series “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency”, Cibachrome print, MEP collection, Paris © Nan Goldin, courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery

By them “weapon of the genre”, highlights from Side A, played on the first floor, where hits from the 1950s to 1990s are connected in order of appearance. Edith Morris’ Serious Mine (Edith1967-2012), Emmet Gowin’s muse, next door to Yoko, a pale doll that Nobuyoshi Araki constantly watches from the wedding until after death (Sentimental journey, 1971, Winter trip, 1990). Hervé Guibert has eyes only for Thierry Jouno (Thierry1976-1991), the irresistible T. du Mausoleum of loversa solar cell friend taken away like him by AIDS, in 1992. Alix Cléo Roubaud also knows her near end when she poses with her husband, the poet Jacques Roubaud, in a one-bedroom secret (Without title, 1980-1981). Love is created by many in Larry Clark, who portrays the escapades of a gang of glowing teenagers (Tulsa1963-1970), in the same toned style as Nan Goldin and her snapshots of a New York underground populated by lost souls, between ecstasy and Calvary (The ballad about sexual addiction1979-1986).

René Groebli from the series

René Groebli from the series “The Eye of Love”, 1952, gelatin silver print © René Groebli, courtesy Galerie Esther Woerdehoff

Short wish

On the second floor, newer pictures extend the antics. While Foreign Affairs (2010) by JH Engström and Margot Wallard, and Personal Letters (2000) by Rong Rong & Inri traces two passions lived to the fullest, Sally Mann follows the fall of her husband Larry’s body on their farm in Virginia (Proud meat2003-2009) and Collier Schorr multiplies the posing sessions with his partner Angel Zinovieff (Angel Z2020-2021).

RongRong & inri, November 23, 2000, from the series

RongRong & inri, 23 November 2000, from the series “Personal letters”, 2000, reinforced gelatin silver print, ink manuscript © RongRong & inri

Further on, the tone rises: in the same way as Ren Hang, Lin Zhipeng aka 223 praises the unrestrained sexuality of Chinese youth (the colors of love, 2005-2021); Leigh Ledare investigates her ex-wife Meghan Ledare-Fedderly before her husband Adam Fedderly imitates her (Double volume, 2010); Hideka Tonomura interferes in her mother’s love life (mother loves, 2007). ” With face B, the gaze is less distant and the risk factor much greater notes Simon Baker about these unfiltered series, gathered by instinct. ” Less seen in France, they reflect the state of our research on the subject and ensure a diversity of views. It could not be different, so different opinions, hardly categorical, about the reasons of the heart. ” This space, left to doubt, inextricably linked, and in the most complex way, to the convention that photography can be called “objective”, is the real subject of Love Songs. says Simon Baker.

Lin Zhipeng (aka N ° 223), Green Light, 2010, pigment inkjet print © N ° 223, courtesy i) (between gallery

Lin Zhipeng (aka N ° 223), Green Light, 2010, pigment inkjet print © N ° 223, courtesy i) (between gallery

Short wish would even be wishful thinking, according to some who, like Man Ray, take the problem from behind. In the 1920s, his portraits of Lee Miller were deliberately blurred: “ They might as well have been clean. By resisting the precision of the device, Man Ray just gives the impression of being closer to its model. “. To be as close as possible to the other, if not the other, to take part in the whole, such is the search for these variations on the same theme, where photography, intermediary between fan and idol, gives the former a consolation prize. For Nan Goldin likens it to a caress, for Emmet Gowin to a kiss, as an extension of herself, a learned, technological body, just as incapable of achieving satisfaction.

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