LOVE: Still Not the Lesser

LOVE: Still Not the Lesser

Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago

October 18, 2023
LOVE: Still Not the Lesser
August 16–December 22, 2023
Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago
600 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, Illinois
United States
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The Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago (MoCP) presents LOVE: Still Not the Lesser on view until December 22, 2023. This exhibition brings together twelve 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 AliAlicia BruceJorian CharltonJess T. DuganMari KatayamaKierah KIKI KingMous LamrabatTom MerilionSalma Abedin PrithiModou Dieng YacineYuge Zhou and the debut of Jorge Ariel Escobar.

“The twelve 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, as they use portraiture and self-portraiture to affirm many different types of bodies as divinely worthy of enjoying gentle care and affection. In Peace Room (2022) by Mous Lamrabat (b. 1983, Morocco), love most fully exists as a realm of blended cultural symbols and contexts. Jorian Charlton (b. 1989, Canada) offers Shai and Lex and Cynn and Melisse (2020) as tenderly intimate scenes of young Black love set against an open blue sky. Photographer and nonbinary parent Jess T. Dugan (b. 1986, United States) offers selections from their Family Pictures series (2012–present), focused on Dugan’s own multigenerational, queer family in the United States. In a single image from the LOVE Series (2021) by Alia Ali (b. 1985, Austria) love wins through definitive repetition and insistence, and love becomes a cloak. 

The relationships explored in LOVE range from an expressive courtship dance enacted by two people learning how to connect with one another 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.

“When we say it over and over again, and when our interpersonal as well as broader societal interactions remain aligned and consistent—love really can win,” says Veal.

Afterall, love is love. Love is a right of existence. Love is a language of justice. Love is peace. Love is growth. Love learns tenderness. Love is something that we forever remember, even when it is mourned. And sometimes, love begins with passionate fire.

MoCP’s exhibition page includes events, an essay written by Asha Iman Veal, and education guide.  Media inquiries: Heather Owens, Museum of Contemporary Photography, howens [​at​]

“A New Decade of Dance Films”: October 19, 6–7:30pm
Kierah KIKI King and Patricia Nguyen will screen their respective films. Jenn “Po’Chop” Freeman will moderate a Q&A and participatory movement workshop. Location: Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60605.

“Curating LOVE”: November 1, 6:30–7:30pm
Featuring Asha Iman Veal (MoCP) and Kalen Wing-Ki Lee (Hong Kong Baptist University), moderated by Jennifer Dorothy Lee (School of the Art Institute of Chicago). Location: Columbia College Chicago, 600 S. Michigan Ave., Ferguson Hall, Chicago, Illinois 60605.

Jorge Ariel Escobar and Yuge Zhou artist talk: November 9, 5:30–6:15pm
Join exhibiting artists Jorge Ariel Escobar and Yuge Zhou for a “gallery walk” at MoCP as they discuss their artistic practices and take audience questions beside their respective artworks.

all about love by bell hooks: November 9, 6:30–7:30pm

Join artist Anwulika Anigbo (The Love Ethic) and Megha Ralapati (CEC ArtsLink) for a book circle on all about love: New Visions by bell hooks (1999). This text discusses aspects of deep love in modern society.

About MoCP
The Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago (MoCP) is the world’s premier college art museum dedicated to photography. As an international hub, MoCP generates ideas and provokes dialogue among students, artists and diverse communities through groundbreaking exhibitions and programming. Museum of Contemporary Photography cultivates a deeper understanding of the artistic, cultural and political roles of photography in our world today.

LOVE: Still Not the Lesser has been generously supported through the David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg Impact Fund for Photography.

MoCP is supported by Columbia College Chicago, the MoCP Advisory Board, the Museum Council, individuals, and private and corporate foundations. The 2023–24 exhibition season is sponsored in part by The Comer Foundation, DCASE CityArts Program, the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, the Pritzker Traubert Foundation, the Efroymson Family Fund, the Henry Nias Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council Agency. 

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Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago
October 18, 2023

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