Slowly perusing my copy of Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin’s Holy Bible (it’s not what it seems), I came across a photograph of two Asian women who are about to kiss. Underneath, a sentence is underlined in red pen: ‘[But] I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage [your grief].’
Originally, the quote belongs to Job who reproaches his friends for not being able to comfort him in the time of need and for not finding effective ways of relieving his worries. However, the artists did not mean to interpret the words in their context; in this case, it is the photograph of an imminent kiss and a highlighted passage that present a new frame of reference.
It immediately made me think of an upcoming exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art whose main premise is based on the concept(s) of love evolving throughout the 20th century. Opening next Saturday, the show will bring together nearly 200 works from more than 60 international artists, all directly or indirectly probing the mechanics of love and the related notions of sexuality, gender and the variety of relationships. It will also demonstrate that love can and does take on a diversity of forms and that despite our logical expectations (love should be simple), it is very rarely something straightforward or narrow.
Love and loving will be at the centre of the discourse that the curators of the exhibition, Christine Macel from Centre Pompidou and Rachel Thomas from IMMA, bracketed from the 1920s Surrealist perspectives to the contemporary debates. Pieces by Duchamp, Giacometti, Brancusi or Picasso as well as more recent ones by Felix Gonzalez- Torres, Damien Hirst and Wolfgang Tillmans will provide ample ground for personal, intimate reflections but, undoubtedly, also for a more scientific and sociological approach. In the course of the exhibition, a series of lectures, workshops and film screenings will take place that will expand one’s thinking on one of the most analysed, endlessly debated human emotions/notions. Highly recommended is particularly the IFI Film Series, screening Surrealist cinematic treasures in January and February 2016.
Other favourite examples of voyaging into love:
Jacques Derida does not generalize about love!
Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Lovers (1988)
Haruki Murakami in Kafka on the Shore:
‘Anyone who falls in love is searching for the missing pieces of themselves. So anyone who’s in love gets sad when they think of their lover. It’s like stepping back inside a room you have fond memories of, one you haven’t seen in a long time.’ [from: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/01/01/what-is-love/]
‘Words make love with one another.‘ (Andre Breton)
“Thus I am not able to exist either with you or without you; and I seem not to know my own wishes.” (Ovid)
The ending scene of Graduate (1967):
‘What We Call Love: From Surrealism to Now’ is on from 12 September until 7 February 2016 at IMMA, Dublin.