Some years ago, I was in the train traveling from Amsterdam to The Hague, and the train stopped in Leiden. I was sitting in the last wagon and I remember looking outside the window and seeing at the end of the platform, a young man, crying. I can still see that image, what he looked like, the way he was sitting, inconsolable. I remember because I could almost feel what would be like to hold him and feel his warm strained body. And I had the same sensation when I first saw Carla Richmond and Hanne Steen‘s project Lovers’ T-shirts.
This is a photo series of women wearing t-shirts of ex-lovers. It is about the emotions that come up when putting those t-shirts on and recalling past moments. In parallel Richmond and Steen photographed the ex-lovers wearing the same t-shirt. Richmond and Steen also record the stories the women tell while they’re being photographed, and further on, they use those words anonymously to tell an universal story of love and loss.
The project asks question that I often ask myself, not necessarily in relation to the ones we love , but in relationship with everything that’s important for us, to our memory and our past and the way we tell stories about ourselves. ‘How do we attach meaning and feeling to a piece of clothing? What is the relationship between letting go of an inanimate object such as a t-shirt, and letting go of the intangible ties to a lover?‘ are some of the questions that Hanne Steen asked herself (via Huffington Post) but these questions can be extrapolated to everything. How does an object absorb the mix of feelings of something we lived? How does it keep them buried for a long time, and wakes all those feelings up once we see that object again? I often find stuff in my parents’ attic that bring back moments long gone, stories I forgot, and feelings I thought I forgot.
I really love this project, it touches something deep and complex in everyone in such a simple manner. The memories Steen collects tell an universal story but the truth is that the photos are so so expressive, they don’t need any words, you simply look at them and feel.