Keeping Love Close: What Does Love Look Like?

Photoville Festival, The New York Times

Artists: Tess Ayano, Christelle de Castro, Kanghee Kim, Sandy Kim, Yunghi Kim, Brendan George Ko, Alex Lau, Peter Ash Lee, Jingyu Lin, Kathy Lo, Hiroko Masuike, Stephanie Mei-Ling, Ricardo Nagaoka, Haruka Sakaguchi, Heather Sten, Justin J Wee

Photoville returns to Times Square with Keeping Love Close: What Does Love Look Like?, a public exhibition commissioned by and co-presented with the New York Times, the world renowned media publication after which the district was named.

What does love look like in a time of anti-Asian hate? The Asian and Asian-American photographers asked to respond to this question are contributors to the New York Times’s Culture coverage, and are based in various cities across the country—though some were working abroad in cities such as Taipei, Osaka, and Seoul. The series was envisioned as a response to the uptick in hate crimes against Asians in America, and 28 photographers answered the call, responding with images that tell an intimate and complex story about their American experience.

Keeping Love Close is curated by Nakyung Han and Jolie Ruben, and accompanied by an essay from Celeste Ng, the author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere:

For many of Asian descent, there is good reason for love to look like worry, especially now. Our faces mark us, in the eyes of too many, as foreigners, no matter how long we’ve been in the United States. Sadly, this is nothing new. Like so many other wrongs in our society, it’s a crack that has always been present, widening under the pressure of the pandemic. A picture can’t prove someone’s humanity — at least not to those determined to see you as other. But we don’t need our photos and stories to convince people that we’re human, that we’re just like them. We don’t need to be just like them, for that matter; we don’t need to match some narrow red-white-and-blue blur of what Americanness — or humanity — means. There is value in choosing how to be seen, in reclaiming the right to select the face you show the world, in insisting that others see you as you know yourself to be. In proudly and boldly framing ourselves in the ways of our own choosing, to say, Here I am; this is me.


About Photoville

Photoville is a New York-based non-profit organization that works to promote a wider understanding and increased access to the art of photography for all. Founded in 2011 in Brooklyn, NY, Photoville was built on the principles of addressing cultural equity and inclusion, which we are always striving for, by ensuring that the artists we exhibit are diverse in gender, class, and race. In pursuit of its mission, Photoville produces an annual, city-wide open air photography festival in New York City, a wide range of free educational community initiatives, and a nationwide program of public art exhibitions. By activating public spaces, amplifying visual storytellers, and creating unique and highly innovative exhibition and programming environments, we join the cause of nurturing a new lens of representation. Through creative partnerships with festivals, city agencies, and other nonprofit organizations, Photoville offers visual storytellers, educators, and students financial support, mentorship, and promotional & production resources, on a range of exhibition opportunities.

About the New York Times

Since 1851, the New York Times has been on the ground reporting stories from around the globe that no one else was telling. How we tell those stories has changed, but our mission to seek the truth and help people understand the world has remained constant.