Tuesday, February 5, 2008

the hug and the brad

a couple of weeks ago i polled my friends. "what would you say is Nan Goldin's most iconic photograph?" ("...okay, okay, not counting the cover of Ballad," i would inevitably add.)

well, none of them said "The Hug," but for me it is so definitely "The Hug," and so, like, if they all refuse to parrot the right answer for the sake of a blogecdote, there's nothing i can do about that.

seriously, The Hug has all the essence of Nan Goldin wrapped up in one seeming snapshot: crazy love, sex, brutality, candor, tenderness, masculinity and femininity and an ambiguous merger of the two, those Kodrachromey colors... you get the drift. is there even more to say about The Hug? yes—Darsie Alexander apparently wrote a whole essay about the photo for the book Singular Images (which i sadly don't have, but clearly need). there isn't a whole book written about it yet, but perhaps in a way there is, since as Alec Soth pointed out, "The Hug" has been selected several times over as the cover image for novels (about love, loss and drama, i am sure).

i thought a fun photo project would be to attempt to reshoot The Hug over and over again. a whole series of attempted Hugs. well, i haven't gotten around to it.

but i keep seeing Rachael Dunville's photograph "The Brad" everywhere. it's the title image from her series Springville about her community in the Ozarks. i finally realized that it reminds me of "The Hug." not only the actual hug, but the intensity of the gaze, the reveal of skin, the gender play, the stiff ambiguity in the posture of the girl being hugged... (and one more thing... the mysterious white thing on the man's wrist in the hug is echoed—humorously, for me—in the yellow Lance Armstrong bracelet on the Brad.) overall, the image seems to tap into something kindred, though in a very different mode and format.

what do you think? any other Hug contenders out there?

(Joerg Colberg of Conscientious interviewed Dunville last month: check it out.)

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