There is an eternal glamour in traveling the world: sweeping panoramas of ancient ruins, heroic monuments, physical tinges of arts and cultures of the exotic, and above all, the romance of embarking on a journey towards whatever awaits on the “greener” side of the grass, so to speak. But how is that journey defined? Once that photo album-worthy snap is captured in locales such as Athens, Beijing, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Giza in Egypt, what happens then? Kevin Arrow investigates the concept of enduring love and its synonymy with wanderlust in Amor Infinitus at the De La Cruz Collection.
In a darkened room, three lightboxes illuminate the walls nearest to the entrance; photographs seemingly dated from the late 1970s or early 1980s catalogue an unidentified couple (they appear separately in each image) immortalizing themselves at the Pyramids, the Great Wall and the Olympic Stadium. A large, split-screen projection on the far wall displays two images (the man posing in Red Square in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow and the woman standing in the courtyard of the Hermitage, St. Petersburg). At their center, a color wheel steadily rotates, overlapping the interior edges of each snapshot. Music from a late 1950s radio show croons overhead, recalling a mood of the dance floors from carefree, American bourgeois supper clubs.
Quite simply, Arrow’s installation is a nostalgic notion of world travel shared by a well-to-do couple. The happy posters of a dated travel agency, the smiles of airline stewardesses and the quizzical looks from locals in each city inform the emotional pull of this project. Sharing a voyage for no other reason than to spend it together, these travelers embrace their surroundings, waving or posing for the camera (presumably each photo is taken by one partner or the other) as if to say “I’ve been here.” There is, however, a deeper appeal of Arrow’s work is found in the little details. The songs streamed from the radio show are suited for the romantic notions of an older audience. The man appears in the foreground of each photo while the woman is swallowed by the antique plazas. An additionally delicious detail finds the brilliant lapis lazuli roof of a Great Wall pagoda matched in the coat of a local who looks on at the male tourist (whose trousers also happen to match).
The feeling of this work is one of something lost, something remote from the breakneck pace of travel, even honeymooning, in the current moment. The spirit of adventure between a faithful couple experienced and appreciated throughout the years in Amor Infinitus brings our hectic ideals of international travel into sharp relief. In the form of 35mm slides, Arrow hits this mark.