As the heart-shaped candy and glittery notebooks were standing ready for purchase on the shelves on the eve of Valentine’s day, they seem to hold nothing other than chemical substance and blank pages. It has become clear that the idealization and commercialisation of love has turned her into a cheap and empty object. While love’s influence has often been more equated towards a form of neurosis or schizophrenia in a multitude of written texts and artefacts, we seem to be drawn to a more easily palletable version that pop culture has to offer, making us swoon and sway to its catchy, but superficial tunes.
The rugged terrain of love, often filled with platitudes, has laid out a difficult task for Simulacrum and the authors to tackle as a topic. For a long period within western history, it has been the poet who cornered the market when it comes to the deep reflections on love’s nature. Its insistence on its impossibility to be captured by the light of reason has inspired philosophers and scientists alike to dissect its essential and ambiguous nature, but outcomes have been abandoned to the realm of the ineffable. Love has often been considered to be a universal language, understood by all. Slowly, but surely, our capitalist society stripped her of her maddening and discordant tendencies with preaching melodious words.
We, the editors, tended to describe ‘love’ as an abstract noun that has been assigned to achaotic rally of multiple subjective defeats and triumphs that express a rich variety of people’s imaginations and interpretations. A notion that can be both understood as a symptom and artefact, which can just as equally remain incomprehensible or invisible as can be seen reflected in a quick doodle or an endured masterpiece.
In relation to a search for the meaning of love, Maria Muuk takes us through a very personal, semantic tussle with the phrase ‘I Love You,’ resulting in an oscillating motion between excessive utterings to a complete diversion of these three words. This public sharing of love’s anguishes is continued in Jade Poolen’s exploration of the written works and words of artist Tracey Emin, where a treading of the fine line between the public and private domains can lead to an uncomfortable relationship. Jaka Lombar utilises the form of a poem, in which the word ‘love’ can be interchanged by the first person narrator, and reveals how love can be oddly rational and distant when it tries to capture itself.
Although views on love have changed over centuries, Anne-Rieke van Schaik shows through an analysis of the late medieval poem Der Minnen loep the remarkable resemblances to our current understandings on the topic, which might reveal some of its transhistorical meanings.
In his text ‘What Else?’ Hans Demeyer puts forward his refractions of his summer notes in which he elaborates on how the hierarchical structuring of love could potentially be replaced laterally. By capturing a certain foothold on the ambivalent nature of love, Demeyer exposes a movement of the undetermined and partial. Sophie Sanders has made an artist’s book of dedications, taken from English novels. These pages, commonly located at the beginning of books, carry minimal words, yet convey immense content by the weight of gratitude and appreciation. Marjolijn Rijks takes a more practical approach, by displaying a rekindling for making in her ongoing drawing series, Today. Here she puts hand over mind, allowing the expressive nature of doing to override.
Some of the contributions, such as Andrea Knezovi’s, could be seen in a more grim light, signifying the dark and the hidden aspects of romance in our contemporary society that we, the participants, ourselves are often blind to. Nikki Manger takes a more activistic stance, speaking out against the overshadowing of female architects by their male colleagues. Through the retelling of Le Corbusier’s modifications of Eileen Gray’s love nest, Manger aims to keep Gray’s story alive. Dan Afrifa takes a more poetic approach to the potential healing of wounded love through a thought conversation on the triumvirate that constitutes trust. The issue ends with Anouk Hoogendoorn and Francesco Trento’s spectropoetic love letter that reveals an enigmatic companionship which purposefully mars beauty with obfuscation and irreverence.
On this note, the outcome of this issue is a summation of written texts, artistic contributions and poetic works, which have the autobiographical reminiscence of the author or maker, reflecting on moments and meetings in the name of love. These contributions can also be a commentary on how we, the audience and the reader, view love as a subject matter in the present. Perhaps, for instance, that the words on love are there merely for our personal detriment – saying, in effect, that the love of others is not for us to see or even for us to understand.
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#. Love is What You Want; The Bittersweet Messages of Tracy Emin’s Neon lights
#. What Else? Summer Notes After a Love Lost
#. This book is for W.R., to whom I wish all good things
#. Trojka; De reis is gelijk aan de afstand tussen ons
#. De kunst van het beminnen; Laatmiddeleeuwse liefdeslessen in Dirc Potters ‘Der minnen loep’ (1411-1412)
Anne-Rieke van Schaik
#. Elegy on a Semantic Trauma
#. TODAY; Drawing series
#. E1027; Het verminkte liefdesnest van Eileen Gray
#. Love in the Age of Meritocracy
#. This Poem
#. A spectropoetic love letter
Anouk Hoogedoorn and Francisco Trento