For his most recent work, Max Pinckers (born in Belgium in 1988, but raised in Asia), traveled to India for four months, accompanied by his partner Victoria. There he has attempted to document, capture, stage and bring to life various specific aspects of love and marriage. Searching through newspapers and magazines, watching films and roaming through cities, he has been looking for subjects that suited his theme, such as a man that made a concrete Taj Mahal for his late wife, couples on honeymoon at the foot of the Himalayas, men on white horses, Victoria’s (carts on which newlyweds strut around), photo studios where couples have their portraits taken, strange decors for marriage ceremonies, a stranded photograph of a married couple (which is offered to a river, lake or sea after their death), found set photographs from a film production and many other things. He also made pictures of ‘lovebirds’ (young lovers on the run from their disapproving families due to caste or religious differences) and the Love Commandos (an organization that protects and supports these young runaway couples and helps them get married and start anew).
Again we see beautiful images of people; some staged, some not. The shelter of the Love Commandos, for instance, which we recognize by the blue walled spaces: a confined space that is an ode to freedom. Often the beautifully lit photographs contain an extra, unneeded reflecting flash, as a footnote, a signature, but also as a spatial photographic intervention. Despite his thorough documentation (that largely exists out of photos, be it found or made by amateurs, such as in the series ‘Lotus’), Pinckers searches for images that are devoid of recognizable elements. It is not the folklore that interests him, nor the differences between our cultures, but this universal search for the perfect image, for our understanding of beauty and kitsch, for our constricted forms of style, and for the emotions that all these images evoke nonetheless. Young couples that dream of a Bollywood elopement or a tradition that is degenerating into cookie-cutter romances… The way life and death disguise and reveal themselves in our relationship with images.
Finally he shows, as a contribution to Europalia India (in collaboration with sculptor Gauthier Oushoorn) three abstract images. We see a smoldering fire pile, a light-radiating cave with a minimal reflecting flash, and an image with a white stain in front of a shiny black surface, in which the white splash seems to become a third ‘light ball’ (as Pinckers calls reflections of flashlights). Here Pinckers searches for the essence: fundamental photographs that show us how images are constructed and function; devoid of all anecdotes, but pregnant with the presence of people.