June is Pride Month, but for photographer Michael Liani, queer culture is his life, as evidenced by his ‘LGBTQ+ LOVE’ portrait series featuring Israeli LGBTQ couples and their families in their home.
Liani began working on this series in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, when daily life was disrupted by lockout measures.
What’s left of Liani is her Instagram account, the social media platform that magnifies everything visually.
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Masked, he rode his scooter and visited many couples and families across the country, taking pictures of them in their homes with their loved ones in what he called “love archives”.
“I want to illustrate what love is for different people,” said Liani, 35, who grew up in a traditional Moroccan family in the small northern town of Migdal Haemek and now lives in Tel Aviv with her boyfriend.
Many times people don’t want to participate, or they need to be convinced, according to Liani.
“People protect their privacy, and I understand that,” he said. “The house is their private and protected space, especially if you are gay.»
But he wants to reveal these lives of love to the whole world.
The project was an instant hit on Instagram, as it was widely shared and followed.
It will be rewarding, Liani said.
“It’s not cool in my generation to be so much better, and that feeling stays in your DNA, it’s in your bones,” he said. “There’s a lot of fear in the older generation, it makes me cry.”
Liani has her own obstacle course.
He left home in his late teens for Tel Aviv, where he discovered himself and his talents as a photographer.
Liani earned a bachelor’s degree in photography and then a master’s degree in photographic arts at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.
His last undergraduate project was to photograph his own family and culture differently, creating a new archive of his childhood in a Moroccan family.
“That’s why photography is amazing. It was a phototherapy with my family, ”he said. “My family took a long time to accept who I was. I come from a traditional family. »
The liberal and open metropolis of Tel Aviv, he says, offers a comfortable zone for Israel’s LGBTQ community, but that kind of environment is not accessible to everyone, and he wants to always remind his audience niana. .
“When I wore a skirt as a kid, no platform accepted me,” Liani said.
He also sees social media as a more inclusive space than galleries and museums, “which aren’t there yet,” he says. “Those who fund art are not interested in issues related to gender identity.»
Liani, on the other hand, likes to place her work in the gray area, leaving viewers free to reflect and get what they want from what they see.
“I just brought up one suggestion – in my view,” said Liani, who worked as a commercial photographer before the pandemic, including fashion brands.
The series made waves, appearing in Vogue Italy last year and in several Israeli newspapers.
The next step for Liani? Hopefully a book about “LGBTQ+ LOVE,” he says.