Comments/Context: Grey Villet's photographs of Richard and Mildred Loving are a sensitive and surprisingly powerful example of the classic photo essay. Using a handful of interconnected photographs to tell the human back story of their unassuming but controversial interracial marriage, Villet documents the quietly personal aspects of the miscegenation laws of 1960s Virginia and of the Loving's history making Supreme Court battle. This isn't a story about shouting and marching, but about unlikely heroes going about their lives, defying the authorities and the prevailing attitudes of the day in the name of love and family.
This is a small exhibit, but I think it provides clear proof of the lasting value of the photo essay as a journalistic form. Photographs are used to illustrate a story ripped from the headlines, and in doing so, give it a much richer and more nuanced reading than could ever have been accomplished with text alone. No amount of saying so can replace the sight of this couple acting like all couples do. Given the context of the times, their behavior was inconceivable to many, and yet, when really observed, it was seen to be genuinely loving. It's a story that needed to be told with photographs, and Villet did an admirable job of avoiding a harsher and more obvious political angle and instead let the everyday actions of the people speak for themselves.
- Estate site (here)
- The Loving Story film site (here)
- Features/Reviews: NY Times (here), Lens (here), La Lettre de la Photographie (here)
Through May 6th