"I've always been interested in watching people together. I wonder what their story is, who they are to each other," explains photographer Melissa Ann Pinney in Two, a collection of more than 90 color images that focus on pairs of people and objects, accompanied by 10 essays by notable contemporary writers.
In this group of vivid, often mystical and playful images, Pinney explores connection, identity and relationships. There is a candid aesthetic to her work. Even her posed photographs grant viewers a glimpse into lives-in-action: a couple's embrace; a tender moment between mother and child; two nested teacups; a girl and her obedient dog; two barefoot, suspender-wearing Amish men staring into a placid sea; an elderly man having his hair done poolside.
The accompanying essays, which delve into the nature of pairs and twosomes, make the book even more compelling. Edwidge Danticat writes about having her feet washed by a stranger in church. Barbara Kingsolver expresses her feelings of being left out of the "charmed Romeo-Julietness" of her parents' marriage. Maile Meloy explores, with awe, the 70-year bond between her grandparents. Allan Gurganus considers the possibility of vanishing twin syndrome, and Elizabeth McCracken writes about her mother's enduring bond with her fraternal twin.
In the moving, eloquent opening essay, Ann Patchett notes that writers and photographers share a similar drive to exist "alone and in the world" in order to create their art. That concept makes Patchett and Pinney's collaborative exploration into the "the power of two" all the more thought-provoking.
Two by Melissa Ann Pinney
Harper Design, $29.99 Hardcover, 9780062334428, 208 pp
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (5/1/15), click HERE
This review was also featured (in a longer form) on Shelf Awareness: Book Trade (12/18/15). To read the longer review click HERE