What does the word love mean to you? The new exhibition of the High Museum of Art: “What is not said, love” seeks to understand the concept of love and how it works in different areas of our lives. Over 35 artists specializing in a multitude of different mediums all explore love, relationships, self-understanding, community, and more.

The exhibition is divided into six thematic sections. In the first of these, titled “The Two,” the artwork focuses on the passionate, sincere, and greedy love of two people. One of the pieces of “The Two” is a series of 16 photographs of artists and the RongRong&inri couple entitled In Fujisan, Japan. The series depicts naked artists and lovers staged in front of Mount Fuji. They sought to perform naked in freezing temperatures as a testament to their vulnerable but unceasing love for each other as newlyweds.

RongRong&inri (Chinese, b. 1968; Japanese, b. 1973), detail from In Fujisan, Japan, 2001, gelatin silver print, from a set of sixteen, collection of Charles Jing. © RongRong&inri. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Romantic love doesn’t define the whole word, however. In fact, most people first experience love at home. In the next themed room titled “The School of Love”, the artworks focus on family ties and, in turn, struggles. Photograph by Carrie Mae Weems The series of kitchen tables envelops the piece with framed pieces of text. Coupled with the emotional yet nostalgic narrative, Weems tells the story of a woman’s life and her relationship with her lover, her career, her children, and the societal struggle as a black woman.

Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953), detail from The Kitchen Table Series, 1990, twenty platinum prints and 14 typographic texts, private collection. © Carrie Mae Weems/courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

In “Que Sera Sera/Invocations” by Patty Chang, Chang seeks to highlight the painful emotions of watching his parents decline in health as they age. A two-channel video plays, left Chang sings a song to her newborn son as his father actively dies in the hospital bed next to her. On the video screen to the right, Chang’s mother scrolls through a tablet screen, reading phrases that remind her of her husband in his final days on Earth. She has trouble reading certain words, signaling her age. “Summon noise reduction headphones”, “Summon silence”, “Summon hoarse and hoarse voice”, and “Summon gasp” are some of the phrases.

Patty Chang (American, b.1972), stills from Que Sera Sera/Invocations Two, 2013, two-channel video, duration 3:45, courtesy of the artist and BANK Gallery, Shanghai, China . © Patty Chang. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

In the next room, “The Practice of Love” is based on the same principle of “The School of Love” but emphasizing consistency and devotion. Eight of Susanna Coffey’s superb self-portraits accompany this idea. To love another, you have to love yourself. Coffey’s portraits are made with the intention of the artist to explore his identity and his spirituality.

Susanna Coffey (American, b. 1949), Self Portrait (For Roy Snow), 1993, oil on linen, The Art Institute of Chicago, gift from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, from Hassam, Speicher, Betts and Symons Fund, 1996. © Susanna Coffey. Digital image: The Art Institute of Chicago/Art Resource, New York.

In the fourth themed room, “Loving Community,” the artwork aims to explore brotherly love, friendships, compatriots, and community. Sometimes these relationships are closer than those of the family. A collection of works featured in this section, works by Tomashi Jackson depict the struggle for equal rights and the vote in the 1960s. Will anyone be saved? (1948 in the middle of the voter registration line) (1965 Abernathy and King Watch the Signing of the Act) Jackson uses photos of prominent black suffrage pioneers active in Georgia like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis and Stacey Abrams. Jackson uses Ohio Underground Railroad soil and modern political campaign fliers to comment on the struggle to vote that still exists for Americans of color. Is anyone gonna be saved was completed in 2020 at the height of the presidential election and two years after Georgia’s intense gubernatorial race.

Tomashi Jackson (American, b. 1980), Will Anyone Be Saved? (1948 Middle of Voter Registration Line) (1965 Abernathy and King Watch the Signing of the Act), 2020, acrylic, Pentelic marble, Ohio Underground Railroad site floor, US election ephemera and paper bags on canvas and fabric, courtesy of the artist and Tilton Gallery, New York. © Tomashi Jackson. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Tilton Gallery, New York. Commissioned by The Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University.

The link between art and poetry already existed in antiquity. Expressing love through poetry, love letters, love songs and sign language are seen in the fifth thematic room: “The Poetics of Love”. At Ghada Amer The words I like the most depicts the artist’s favorite expressions related to love. Written in beautiful Arabic calligraphy and then cast in bronze, the artist intentionally made the script upside down. The words are only readable when looking from inside the room or using a mirror to suggest the viewer find the meaning of love within themselves.

Ghada Amer (American, b. 1963, Egypt), The Words I Love the Most, 2012, bronze with black patina, courtesy of the artist and Tina Kim Gallery, New York. © Ghada Amer/2022 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Photo: Christopher Burke Studios.

Finally, “Love Supreme” allows viewers to contemplate the connection between love, spirituality, nature, culture and the self. by Michelle Stuart In the beginning: time and dark matter intrigues and engages the viewer with seashells of different colors, shapes and sizes and photos of space and the sea. Stuart wants to challenge the viewer’s ordinary understanding of seashells and photos of space to open our consciousness to the world material and immaterial that surrounds us.

Michelle Stuart (American, b. 1933), In the Beginning: Time and Dark Matter, 2016-2020, archival pigment prints, metal and wood table, seashells, beeswax and plates, courtesy of the artist and Gallery Long, New York. © Michelle Stuart.

At the very end of the exhibition is a room titled pulse room by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. In pulse room participants can hold two rods that sense and light dozens of light bulbs hanging from the ceiling to blink at your pulse. The room makes a pulsing sound when the lights flash. When the participant lets go, the room goes dark and then each light bulb is turned back on one by one across the room. pulse room connects the public to themselves, to other visitors and to a collective humanity.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (Mexican, b. 1967), Pulse Room, 2006, incandescent bulbs, voltage monitors, heart rate sensors, computer and metal, variable dimensions, Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2022 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VEGAP, Madrid.

What is not said, love is beautiful, heartbreaking, ethereal and enlightening. Each visitor is able to connect and identify with each thematic piece and reflect on their own relationships, values ​​and self. The exhibition is visible until August 14, 2022 on the second level of the Wieland Pavilion.