Michelle Luke photographies, Bibliotheque nationale de France, Galerie Colbert, Paris, France

The Sweet Ache, Desire

The sensual shapes and abstract forms of the compositions are my first love. The intensity of the black and white values and the grain, are what I bait my hook with, what I compose our waltz with. They are of equal weight to any narrative elements. You can be seduced by the formal beauty of my images. (I hope you will be). Let yourself be enveloped within the realms of intimacy—private moments exposed to our gaze.

Figurative images represent ourselves. We empathize with, mentally participate with, or become voyeurs to human likeness. My figures enact feelings around sexuality-the emotional or psychological elements in a relationship—which is socially central to our existence. I search for answers to the age-old enigma of desire. Why is it he/she? The moment is totally within human experience. The recognition. An unexpected glance that draws you. This vertiginous sensation expressed in the work, we’ve felt often. Being left, being found…

The pace created is essential, varying from a steady pulse beat, to a rapidly pounding heart. Each moment is frozen, heightened, charging the atmosphere with anticipation, erotic expectancy, or the yearning sigh of amorous absence. Locked inside the peculiar, subdued psychology of lovers’ states of mind, the story is told twice, from differing perspectives. As she saw it, as her lover did. As he remembers it, as she does. There are many aspects of a scene shown, Memories are not precise, and dreams are obscure. Lies are told. There is no precise reading for these sequences. They are open-ended—clues to a mystery. Add to this, the elements you focus on won’t necessarily be what I take away. We, none of us, see things in exactly the same way. We’re given the same imagery but no one else’s experiences imbue our reading, therefore no one else has the same narrative building within them, as we do. 

I use a narrative format to record the movement within this private domain. Glimpses of moments that come together as if in a dream, never quite gelling. Like waking up and having the imagery slip away—yet leave you with a strong overall impression that marks you. A knowing. Left by a kind of whirlwind of perceived fragments that spin internally, eternally, informing us.

Your vision is restricted to the camera’s viewpoint. This makes what is happening outside the frame, equally important. The space between the images is as significant as the photographs. This is what you bring to my work. The movement between my images takes place in your mind. When I connect with a viewer, when my photographs interact with your own memories and sensations, then we hum. A real vibration exists between us.

“Thus, each poet owes us his invitation to the voyage. With this invitation we register, in our being, a gentle impulsion which shakes us, which set in motion beneficent reverie, truly dynamic reverie. If the initial image is well chosen, it is an impulsion to a well-defined dream, to an imaginary life that will have real laws of successive images, really vital meaning. The sequence of images, arranged by the invitation to the voyage takes on, through the aptness of its order, a special vivacity that makes it possible to designate…a movement of the imagination.  This movement is not just a metaphor. We shall actually feel it within ourselves, usually as a lightening, an effortless imagination of connected images, an eagerness to pursue the enchanting dream. A beautiful poem is opium or alcohol. It is nutriment for the nerves.” Gaston Bachelard, On Poetic Imagination and Reverie

Many allusions are included. Further reflection will open them to you. Spend some time with the sequences. Dip your hand in my pond, and float slowly off…

~Michelle Luke~


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