Loving: a photographic story, presentation of the book that portrays the romantic love between men between 1850 and 1950

Milano – Tuesday 9 November 2021, at 6.30 pm, the presentation of the book is scheduled at the Feltrinelli bookshop in Piazza Piemonte in Milan Loving: a photographic story, which portrays theromantic love between men through more than three hundred photographs, moving and moving, taken between 1850 and 1950. Speakers Eric Ghysels (publisher and founder of 5 Continents Editions) e Paolo Maria Noseda (author and interpreter); free admission with mandatory Green Pass, subject to availability (more information via email).

Milano – Loving: a photographic story And a visual story of rare sensitivity that brings to light a completely new collection made up of thousands of photographs taken in the most varied contexts, public or private: from shots posed in photographic studios to moments of leisure on the beach, in the park or in the countryside, in city and domestic contexts. Similarly, the typology of the protagonists portrayed is also wide and diversified: from the 19th century working class to fashionably dressed businessmen, but also college students, soldiers and sailors of all ages in the period from the American Civil War to the Second World War, up to the 1950s.

Milano – Taken in a historical period in which relationships between men were still considered illegal in most of the world, photos of Loving come from collection by Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell, a couple of collectors who in the last twenty years have meticulously collected over 2,800 photographs found, initially by chance, in flea markets, inside shoe boxes, family archives, old suitcases or on the occasion of real estate sales and online auctions . Photographs that turned out to be today a unique testimony of the loving sentiment between men through different times and places. The shots in the collection come from all over the world: Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Japan, Latvia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The variety of images collected also tells the inevitable transformations that took place in more than one hundred years of history in the field of fashion, hairstyles, automotive design and society itself as well as the evolution and development of photography and the different techniques used over time including tintypes, ambrotypes, photo postcards, passport photos, photos for business cards , cabinet card. Each image of Loving it is a demonstration of love, but also of courage: the shared desire to be seen only by each other and to immortalize those moments so unique and special forever in one shot prevails over the risks that were run at the time. In most cases the couples are the only subject of the image but there are examples in which other characters appear with the role, not too omitted, of happy witnesses.

Looking at the images of the volume it is difficult not to be carried away by the sincere expressions, the spontaneity of the gestures, the total devotion of the protagonists that transpires from the shots, but above all from stories that have remained silent until now and have become the spokespersons of a timeless message: love is a universal feeling that unites the whole of humanity and who, through bursting, all-encompassing, sometimes inexpressible emotions, manages to overcome all boundaries and break down stereotypes. Two people can be in love regardless of gender, orientation, or any other man-made division.

In their essay entitled A collection born by chance, Neal Treadwell e Hugh Nini raccontano come it all began with a found photograph, just by chance, in an antique shop in Dallas (Texas). What would later become the first photograph in the collection is dated around 1920 and depicts two embraced young men looking at each other, clearly in love. Accompanying that completely accidental find was the curiosity to find out how the photo had survived over the years up to the 21st century. The second shot was purchased through an online auction: enclosed in a small art deco glass frame with the inscription Yours Always, the photograph portrays two soldiers in the 1940s, posing cheek to cheek. After the first discoveries, the two collectors began to devote more and more time to researching new photographs, both locally and traveling across the United States, Canada and around the world: this is how their collection was born.

Once the project started, collectors then began looking at the photographs to locate those telltale signs that can clearly indicate the existence of a love relationship among the protagonists depicted: first of all the expression of the eyes, then body language analysis down to the most subtle details, like a small gesture. In their contribution, the collectors also refer to a number of recurring elements in several images of the book. A common feature of numerous shots from the mid-1880s to the 1920s is for example the fact of putting oneself posing under an umbrella, probably a sign of the ongoing romantic relationship. Another object that recurs in numerous photographs by Loving is the ring. Although at the time the legal option of marriage between men was not yet contemplated in any way, several shots show it exchange of rings. One of the first photos in the book, dated around 1860, portrays one of the couple’s men wearing a pinky ring. During the Second World War the appearance of wedding rings, bracelets and other jewels as symbols of commitment became more common, so much so that they began to be worn by many soldiers and sailors. Even the photographic strip made in the booths often appears among the images of Loving: the instrument was very popular for decades as it connoted itself to be a safe place to maintain the anonymity of the couple without involving other people such as the photographer or the developer.

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