LOVE: Still Not the Lesser

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Mous Lamrabat, Where is the love #2, 2019.

CHICAGO—The Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago (MoCP) presents “LOVE: Still Not the Lesser” on view from Aug. 17–Dec. 22, 2023. This exhibition brings together 12 international artists uniting across communities to share the ways they encounter and understand love. The exhibition is led by MoCP Associate Curator Asha Iman Veal.

“LOVE: Still Not the Lesser” features artworks by: Alia Ali, Alicia Bruce, Jorian Charlton, Jess T. Dugan, Mari Katayama, Kierah KIKI King, Mous Lamrabat, Tom Merilion, Salma Abedin Prithi, Modou Dieng Yacine, Yuge Zhou and the debut of Jorge Ariel Escobar.

“The 12 artists explore dynamics within sensual eroticism, romantic partnership, family structures, social utopia and life and death,” says Veal. “They observe and declare circumstances of love that serve various intentions.”

Themes of visibility and adoration recur as concepts embraced by the photographers and video artists in “LOVE.Jorian Charlton (b. 1989, Canada) offers a playful and tender sensuality through intimate scenes of young love and Black love. Jess T. Dugan (b. 1986, U.S.) shares moments from within their multi-generational queer family. Yuge Zhou 周雨歌 (b. 1985, China), a current cohort participant at The New Museum in New York’s NEW INC art and technology incubator, offers her pandemic-era “Love Letters (summer)" and "Love Letters (winter)video duet. In utopian scenes by Mous Lamrabat (b. 1983, Morocco), monoculture exists as an anthesis to his own visual language of love.

The themes and topics explored in “LOVE” range from an expressive courtship dance enacted by two people learning how to connect with one another meaningfully despite barriers of distance, to an embodied portrayal of feeling one’s own sensuality and pleasure. From an adult son’s documentary collaboration with his nonagenarian father and artist mother during the last weeks of her life, to the love and pride held within visibly queer parenting.

“Our exhibition presents a possible world where love as a universal value of respect and care for all humans has been fully achieved,” says Veal. “Love is a given right of existence. Love is a choice of how to exist in the world. Love is something that we forever remember, even when it is mourned.”

“And sometimes, love begins with a passionate fire.”

"LOVE: Still Not the Lesser" Sept.-Oct. Public Programs:

Thursday, Sept. 7, 5-7 p.m.
Opening Reception
MoCP, 600 S. Michigan Ave.

The public is invited to the opening reception for “LOVE: Still Not the Lesser.”

Wednesday, Sept. 13, 6-7:30 p.m.
Lecture in Photography: Jess T. Dugan
Ferguson Hall, 600 S. Michigan Ave.

Columbia College Chicago alum Jess T. Dugan is an artist whose work explores issues of identity through photography, video and writing. Their work has been widely exhibited and is in the permanent collections of over 50 museums, including the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, the International Center of Photography and more. Dugan’s monographs include “Look at me like you love me” (MACK, 2022), “To Survive on This Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults” (Kehrer Verlag, 2018) and “Every Breath We Drew (Daylight Books, 2015).” They were selected by the Obama White House as an LGBT Artist Champion of Change.

Lectures in Photography are co-presented by MoCP and the Photography Department at Columbia College Chicago.  

Thursday, Oct. 19, 6-7:30 p.m.
A New Decade of Dance Films:
Screening and Performances by Kierah “KIKI” King & Patricia Nguyen
Dance Center Columbia College Chicago, 1306 S. Michigan Ave.

In “Fruitful Devotion” (2023), dance choreographer and Columbia College Chicago alum Kierah KIKI King (b. 1998, U.S.) explores ideas of body and self-intimacy through a lens of Black Queerness, observing and understanding how to authentically love. Patricia Nguyen’s (b. 1987, U.S.) newest sensorial experimentation and haptic performance work “Creating Worlds with My Mother” (2023) features the artist and her mother, Thuy Ta, exploring the aftermath of war, inherited trauma, intergenerational healing, refugee resettlement and queer worldmaking.

August 17, 2023
December 22, 2023
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