Lauren Fleishman : The Lovers
The Lovers is a photographic series of couples that have shared their lives for more than 50 years. Inspired by a love letter written by Lauren Fleishman’s grandfather to her grandmother early in their marriage, Lauren was moved to find more intertwined souls like theirs. Through colour photographs, voice recordings and text, she documents the stories of intimacy and commitment of elderly couples across the United States and Europe.
As a photographer, Lauren Fleishman has always been attracted to the beauty of love and lovers. Her project extends this attraction to a domain that is largely unexplored, and more importantly, not well documented visually. Like her other work, this project addresses both artistic and documentary angles: sociology and the human geography of emotions, as well as the aesthetics of the body. In this work, colour photographs are combined with interviews where the subjects, elderly couples intimately involved for over five decades, describe their love and relationship. Couples from different backgrounds provide a look at the realities of love: how the previous generation experienced it, survived it, and, more importantly, how it appears in their lives. The body politics of the project become especially clear when gay and lesbian couples or couples with ill spouses are considered. In this respect, Fleishman’s pictures play a central role in addressing homophobia and increasing awareness of age-related issues.The visual aspect of the project is complemented with the very personal interviews with the couples. Lauren Fleishman considers these an indispensable part of the work, always conducted before she takes the photograph. It is this process of remembering that can bring out a deep tenderness in the couples. As they speak, it is as if they are weaving their own love stories.
For Fleishman, working with these couples often feels like a last chance to do this together. Her personal relationship to this project is based on personal experience; after her grandfather’s death, she found a series of love letters written to her grandmother during the Second World War. The letters connected her to her grandfather and his sixty-three-year long marriage in a way that she had not been able to connect with him in life. By witnessing his youth through his love of her grandmother, Lauren was able to see him more clearly. Finding these letters set her off on a long journey of research, starting with couples in the neighbourhood in New York where she then lived and continuing throughout the United States and Europe.