Copyright Robert Kalman, 2009 self-published, courtesy of the artist
The legality of who can marry or co-habitat with whom is an ongoing issue that can find its roots in China’s Tang dynasty in 836 AD and at one time or another in India, France, Israel, Malaysia, Spain, Germany and the United States . The issue of ethnic or religious bias as expressed as anti-miscegenation has both formal and informal cultural consequences are played out in Romeo and Juliet and contemporized with West Side Story. This is also the external context for Robert Kalman’s No Difference Between Them, illustrating Brian Andreas poem:
There was a boy
with skin as dark
as the earth
& a girl with eyes
as the deep
& they loved each other
so well that people could
not tell them apart,
for in their hearts,
No Difference, Copyright Brian Andreas 2009
Kalman has photographed these couples in their found element in the streets of New York City, Provincetown or during his journeys to Europe. The couples are photographed in Black and White (an interesting choice of medium for this specific project, which is also the subtitle of the book, The Black & White Portraits) with a view camera and natural light.
Each couple appears to strike a pose of their own choosing; to embrace, hold hands, lean into each other or perhaps stand just close enough, with arms folded or in their pants pocket, with the near proximity hinting at their intimacy. Most of his subjects gaze directly into the lens, with some choosing to look at their loved one. Likewise, there is both a guarded appearance, perhaps due to previous circumstances, as well as an openness and acceptance of each other and the viewer.
Hinted at are the stories of what prejudice that they may have already endured or stoic as realizing that there may be more to endure as a result of their choices.
Beyond this background story, this book is a series of portraits of couples that hints at love, care, and intimacy between two individuals. The only disconcerting aspect of some photographs is the occasional use of a close, tight and distracting background, although speaks to an environmental portrait, does not seem to resonate with the subject of the photograph.
The forward is provided by Heidi W. Durrow. This book is available in hardback with a dust cover; the black and white photographs are printed on black pages with captions and without page numbers.
by Douglas Stockdale