photography by AMANDA CHARCHIAN
interview by OLIVIER ZAHM
for the purple love issue, amanda charchian created a series of painted images inspired by the greek myth of pygmalion, who falls in love with his own sculpture of his ideal woman. he prays to the goddess aphrodite to bring the sculpture to life. galatea is born.
OLIVIER ZAHM — How would you describe your personal experience of love?
AMANDA CHARCHIAN — Amanda, my name, means “worthy of love,” by the way. Love is the most beautiful and complex sculptural entity in all of life! It transforms, morphs, turns itself inside out. It teaches us what the meaning of change is. It teaches us what time is.
OLIVIER ZAHM — What is your secret definition of love?
AMANDA CHARCHIAN — For me, love is the desire to get closer, to blur boundaries, to multiply intimacy, to surrender and assimilate, to devour and devote. Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself. To photograph is to love, to bring the external inward. To make my eyes suddenly a hand, holding the heart of a scene, to freeze it in time, to make it an altar, a place to surrender the offering of my devotion.
OLIVIER ZAHM — Can we love without being a “couple”?
AMANDA CHARCHIAN — Yes, I feel love when I look up at the sky. There is agape, a spiritual love that needs nothing else.
OLIVIER ZAHM — Can we love something other than a human being?
AMANDA CHARCHIAN — For me, it is an essence, an energy that can be experienced in many forms.
OLIVIER ZAHM — Love can hurt, for sure…
AMANDA CHARCHIAN — I like the Khalil Gibran quote: “Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. / Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; / For love is sufficient unto love.”
OLIVIER ZAHM — Can love be a source for art?
AMANDA CHARCHIAN — For me, love is a source for all art.
OLIVIER ZAHM — Could you describe one of your projects or artworks that is related to an aspect of love?
AMANDA CHARCHIAN — I did an exhibition at the Fahey / Klein Gallery about the “7 Types of Love” through a photographic exploration of intimate relationships, as categorized by Canadian psychologist J.A. Lee’s modern interpretation of Greek philosophical notions of love. A crimson moonscape and a floating mouth emptying an ectoplasmic substance through pink water visually translate the concept of agape — the selfless, spiritual, divine love. Two blue eggs held by chained gloves over a woman’s pelvis symbolize pragma, a practical kind of love grounded in duty and reason. For eros, a sensuous glimpse of two intertwined lips illuminates the construct of passionate, romantic love. The series is completed with images portraying philautia (self-love), mania (an obsessive, possessive love), and ludus, which encapsulates the idea of courtship and unrequited desire.
OLIVIER ZAHM — What could be a new model for love today?
AMANDA CHARCHIAN — I heard once that if people could conjure enough humility, they could love anyone. I’ve always wondered about this. If people did not succumb to impenetrability as a result of insecurity, or codependency as a result of trauma, perhaps we could reach a more evolved form of love. If we inherited a world based not on greed and self-righteousness, but on reverence and preservation of nature, surely love would look different? Though it sounds naive that the world would have such healthy-minded people.
OLIVIER ZAHM — Could the dream of transforming the world, or making a better world, be based on love?
AMANDA CHARCHIAN — There is this TV series called Osmosis, set in Paris in the near future, during a time in which one’s soulmate can be pinpointed using a brain implant that assesses all possible love options. Imagine a world where our personal data could be gathered and an algorithm could match us with a soulmate. How much of what people do is to try to attract the opposite sex? Could that basic animalistic tendency be alleviated so that our minds could be used for higher realms of activity? How would the world be different if everyone was in love? Technological advancements in love will surely alter the future of its existence in the world, as people love to automate everything. Many people already are in relationships with robots, especially in Japan, like in the Spike Jonze film Her. Love, too, will surely become something we will attempt to control.