For the series “Trialogo,” the Catholic photographer Gonzalo Orquin captured images of homosexual couples kissing in centuries-old Italian churches; beneath the ornate ceilings, the lovers’ embrace harmonizes with the architecture, elevating gay love to the religious beauty and devotion normally associated only with heterosexual marriages. By locating each shot within a religious and cultural context that has opposed marriage equality, Orquin courageously asserts the sacred validity of same-sex love.
The artist deliberately positions each pair at the church alter or in the center of the frame, visually uniting them under gilded crosses, vivid paintings of the crucifixion, and engravings of biblical passages. Like the churches themselves, architecturally built around the sacred concept of symmetry, the lovers are powerfully balanced, each assigned equal visual weight. Where one leans in for the kiss, the other braces to accommodate the movement. Heightening this notion of harmony and equilibrium, each couple is linked by similar clothing choices: two leather jackets, two dark suits, two soft cardigans.
Orquin’s lovers are seen as fully realized unit, unified under the Christian ideas of balance and wholeness. They complement and nurture one another as they bask in a golden glow, lit by radiant daylight steaming into the sacred spaces. Upon seeing these moving images, viewers might recognize the virtue and spiritual value that romantic love affords humanity, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Sadly, an exhibit of Orquin’s images, set to open last fall at the Galleria L’Opera, was legally threatened and ultimately shut down by the Vatican on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. In the eyes of the Catholic church, the photographs would “offend and infringe upon the advancement of man in the particular place for the expression of faith.” Orquin has articulated his outrage against the decision, and the work continues to spark passionate debate. What do you think? (via HuffPost)
Orquin’s beautiful photographs will be on display in New York’s at the Leslie+Lohman Museum this May.