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‘What Is Love’ photography exhibition asks a simple question that reveals so much

Friday 01st, April 2016 / 16:13
By Steven Shepherd
World-renowned photographer Angela Fama gets right down to matters of the heart.

World-renowned photographer Angela Fama gets right down to matters of the heart.

VANCOUVER — Angela Fama has had a full life of travel, from Tennessee to Zimbabwe, and BeatRoute is glad to say she settled down in this mixed metropolis we call home. She’s become a bit of figure piece, especially if you were a frequenter of The Templeton, but Fama has since become a more active member of both the arts community and the commercial photography world and all the ways they mesh.

Coming out of a commercial background, Fama began her more artistic pursuits using the skills gained from her history in the industry so as to avoid the frustration of going down one path instead of another. In melding the two worlds, she began working on new and exciting projects, several delving in the idea of comparison. Beginning with Mirrorface and the ideas of ego, she moved to Profileface, showing what people chose to project (participants limited to a closer group of friends), and then How Are You, which asked a larger faction, quite frankly, how they are with answers held in the subject’s expression.

All of that led into Fama’s most recent work, What Is Love. From close knit to community, and now an even larger scale (visiting 20 communities across North America in a single summer), she exposed herself and, in asking people such an intimate query — what the word “love” meant to them — she received the same vulnerability she allowed herself to show.

In opening the floor with the simply put question, it allowed people to expand deeply into all the faucets they could. It didn’t always roll off the participants’ tongues, but that was expected. Answers ranged from modest to intricately detailed. Fama says that a “uniform definition [of love] precludes our understanding that the human experience of love is varied.”  Sampling a group of 300 or more was a way to show just how different love can be defined. “To view all the answers with all the different faces behind them, it really blew away the idea of conceptions,” she adds.

At the Burrard Arts Foundation in the coming weeks, not only will attendees be able to see all the faces of the people catalogued, but they will be able to hear their voices and responses as well. If you’re left with even ten percent of the experience Fama had, it may still feel like a lifetime. In compiling responses from so many people, each with its own uniqueness and complexity, the work truly opens one’s perception and will leave the viewer asking, “what is love?”

What Is Love runs at the Burrard Arts Foundation from April 7 – May 14.

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