As Long As We Both Shall Live grew out of a portrait session with my parents -- married 47 years -- in the summer of 1997. When my father passed away a few months later, the pictures took on a much greater significance for me. Soon thereafter, another couple asked if I would make a similar portrait of them, and the idea of making a photo essay on the subject of long-married couples was born.
Over the next decade, as my time and resources allowed, I travelled all over the United States armed with a Nikon F, a tape recorder and a passion. I met with couples (all of whom were married for at least 40 years) in all manner of ways: people known to me, referrals from friends and colleagues, through community and religious centers, and simply inquiring of couples on the street. In addition to creating the portraits, I began interviewing the subject couples, discussing their history and their outlook on the institution of marriage. By focusing on spouses who have been married for more than 40 years, this unique, nationwide undertaking reflects the multitude of reasons that couples from an earlier era chose to make a lifelong commitment to their union, sounds them out about the transition marriage has undergone during their lifetime, and provides a touchstone for its audience to examine its own knowledge and assumptions about marriage, intimacy, family, gender roles, and the evolution of cultural and generational values.
My efforts were rewarded in 2006 when the As Long As We Both Shall Live project received a major exhibition at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, followed by invitations to show and to lecture on my work in major cities in the US and abroad. Excerpts have been featured in such prestigious journals as DoubleTake and the Chinese arts & culture monthly, VISIONS.
While the project continues to enjoy success and media coverage in certain areas in the US and abroad, it is still my goal to find a sponsoring organization to mount a travelling exhibition in the United States and to publish the entire work (including the full interview texts) in book form. If you are an exhibitor or publisher interested in helping this labor of love to find a larger audience, to discuss it and receive a full proposal.
As Long As We Both Shall Live was, from its inception through 2008, part of the Fiscal Sponsorship program of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. I remain grateful to them for their support during the creation of this project. Learn more about them here.
To begin viewing the portraits, click on one of the thumbnails at left. When you're done, I hope you'll help spread the word by telling your friends, family and colleagues about the As Long As We Both Shall Live project.
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--Robert Fass, NYC