Pleasures and Terrors of Kissing
Guest Blog Post by Image Source
James Friedman’s photographic series, Pleasures and Terrors of Kissing, feels like an encyclopedia or taxonomy of kissing, or the document created by an ethnographer – passionate, affectionate, oblivious. Shot in black and white, the series enables the viewer to focus on the stillness of the kiss – the awkwardness of the bystander faced with this bubble in space hints at a little bit of social chaos injected by the public display of private passion (‘where to look?’).
Lips are the border of inside and outside, and in the latter part of the 20th Century ‘the kiss’ has been celebrated in photography as a public window on a private emotion – think of the couple in Robert Doisneau’s Kiss By The Hotel De Ville. Or Alfred Eisenstaedt’s image of the sailor kissing the woman in the white dress in Times Square on V-J Day. It’s the ultimate ‘anti-social’ image, not in the sense of being destructive, but an image of two people recoiling from the social world, into their world, whose pleasure and terror is not the exclusion of every other human being, it’s more profound than simply exclusion – in the pleasure of the kiss no one else exists. And because kissing is done with eyes closed, it’s a feeling that is almost unrepresentable, that can’t be said, and only seen in the photograph.
Photographer James Friedman, Pleasures and Terrors of Kissing, #701
Photographer James Friedman, ‘Pleasures and Terrors of Kissing’, #1231
In the introduction to his project the Pleasures and Terrors of Kissing, James Friedman writes, “I do not remember any kissing between family members as I was growing up. It wasn’t until my mother was hospitalized for eight months, unable to speak, that we began to kiss good-bye before I would depart for the day after visiting her. These newly discovered displays of affection were imbued with genuine caring and profound sadness as we both know she had only a short time to live.” It was this relationship with his mother in her final months that prompted his photo project.
Photographer James Friedman, ‘Pleasures and Terrors of Kissing’, #1979
Photographer James Friedman, ‘Pleasures and Terrors of Kissing’, #1302