the marriage act.

Peter Cardone, “My wife wants me to take pictures of her,” 2008.

Lately, Culture Rover has been mesmerized by Peter Cardone’s photograph, “My wife wants me to take pictures of her,” whose title and image capture something so essential about spousal relationships.

Something about this photograph encapsulates the secret communication — the almost-physiological conversations of emotion, sensation, and meaning — that occur between a couple. Is it the ambiguous location, which looks like a driveway in front of a garage, and suggests a couple on the threshold between public and private, either on their way out of or into their home? Is it the wife’s gaze, which is at once suspicious and welcoming, impatient and curious? Or is it the title, which makes one wonder whether Cardone’s wife actually wishes to have her photo taken, or whether it is Cardone who desires that his wife want to have her photo taken?

The photograph is so casual as to be a snapshot. It’s a “picture,” not a “photograph.” It is something vernacular, not high art. And yet, in its magnetic energy, which pulls the reader toward the dreamlife of domestic normality, the image begins to look more and more staged. Is this even Cardone’s wife or just a model or friend playing his wife? Has Cindy Sherman entered the building (or better said emerged from the garage in the background)? Is this photograph so real as to appear not real? Or is it just a moment in the driveway, between art and the everyday, on the way home from or to the market?

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