You Love Life is an attempt to express a personal reaction to a statement attributed to al-Qa’ida that Nick Waplington read first on the Internet: “You love life as much as we love death." George Bush referred to the statement (although the wording this time was “You choose life while we choose death”) in a White House address a couple of months later, in an attempt to justify and galvanise Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Waplington explains, “It was this dichotomy and its many possible interpretations that provided me with the inspiration to produce this work, a work about life and the choices I have made and the choices which have been made on my behalf.” The result of this is expressed here in You Love Life” a large selection of snapshots depicting Waplington’s own life, from the 1980s to the present.
The work shown is even more personal than his earlier work. Sex, drugs, friendships and nightlife populate the pages. Despite some very strong, graphic images – a simple but brutal shot of a couple having sex on a rock, a woman giving birth, the sea fence of a Mexican border – the book lacks a coherence and at times it is hard to even relate its sense to the original mission statement. I can only grasp here far too few fragments of the time where Waplington was remarkably documenting the ordinary, in such bodies of work as The Living Room and Weddings.
The design of the book works well enough up to a point, but it is let down by the lack of captions. The photographs published become much more captivating and powerful when accompanied by short captions; unfortunately these are hidden at the back of the book and as the pages are not numbered, the exercise is redundant.
Waplington’s attempt to link the political statement to what is essentially a personal diary has proved surprisingly, and most disappointingly, clumsy.