Hamburg-based photographer Hayley Austin (1984, USA) looks head-on at the intimate relationships of couples in her new series Narratives of Desire. Through these environmental portraits, we find ourselves in the private spaces of cohabited apartments, witnessing moments fuelled by the love, sex and desire shared between lovers. Austin emphasises the role that touch plays in forming connections, saying: “Though humans increasingly socialise online, a virtual plane where corporeality is secondary, love remains inextricably linked to our experience of inhabiting a body.”
Illuminated by soft sunlight, the scenes teem with gestures, gazes and body language that are eminently legible. However, as we continue to look, interrogating their facial expressions and posture in search of understanding, it becomes apparent how little we’re able to know with certainty. When viewing a portrait, as when studying our own lover, we eventually find a boundary beyond which we cannot trespass, never being able to fully know the contents of another’s mind or heart.
Austin's series Narratives of Desire was featured as a portfolio in GUP #49, Intimacy