Men and Love in Africa, no. 1

Young Love, Vanguard Estate, Cape Town
In 2011, my collaborators and I began a series of small studies on love. In one study conducted with my 2011 Master’s intern, Candice, some of the narratives we wanted to dig up were on issues such as: Why do we love the people we do? Are there specific characteristics, beliefs or behaviours that attract us that attract us?
Or is it a magical sort of process, hard to explain, that, ultimately we know we love and are loved when we are in it?
Or, yet, do we fall in love with what and who is available to us?
You might be wondering what this has to do with African men and masculinities, beyond the obvious fact that men also human beings. Perhaps the most central issues were, first, to understand what role loves plays in the making of masculinity, and second, how masculinity is worked out, made, in intimate relationships.
Thus it was that along the way, alongside the narratives of sexual love, I became interested in visualising love. I wanted to see how love is bodily done; in the doing of love. I then started looking out for how love is performed and photographing love in everyday situations.
There are obvious situations like the one depicted in the above image, perhaps a common image of two young people kissing. Hence, the first image I want to show is this one of a young couple passionately kissing on an afternoon in October 2011 in Vanguard Estate, Cape Town, South Africa.
It sounds obvious now, but when I started imagining what kind of images reflected love or intimacy, I felt I would soon run out of variety of love situations. How wrong I was, and thankfully so. Love and intimacy show themselves in so many ways. It is not only in passionate kisses. Sometimes it is in how a couple hold hands. The way a body is turned to the other person. How two people look at each other, if you can capture that look. It’s a hand in the groove of the back, a touch on the cheek, intertwined legs, fixing the other persons tie or brushing off fluff from a dress.
Look out for more images in the next few days and weeks. If you have love images which you can share, please do.


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