Portraits: What you lookin' at?
In this photograph, Koch captures a small and intimate moment of everyday life. The composition consists of an embracing couple, placed slightly off-centre, the background entirely taken up by a double decker bus. The slogan on the side of the bus reads ‘sightseeing,’ although the beginning and the end of the word are cut off, adding to the sense that this photograph represents a small snapshot of the world. Although the composition contains many figures, the face of only one half of the couple is visible to us, on which Koch captures an expression of complete contentment and absorption. The two are seemingly unaware of both the gaze of the viewer behind the camera, and that of the shadowy silhouettes on the bus behind them. Indeed, the role of the gaze seems almost to take centre-stage, the slogan ‘sightseeing’ gaining a comic tone, both when applied to the forays of the couple into young love, and to the captivated audience on the bus behind them. Although the haircuts and clothes of the couple place them as decidedly modern, the black-and-white format of the photograph imbues it with a feeling of nostalgia, comparable, perhaps, to photographs of embracing couples from the 1940s and 50s. These different elements combine and play off each other within a tight and ordered composition, creating an incredibly playful and engaging piece.
Entry written by Jessica Halliday, History of Art Placement