TWO (Harper Design; On Sale April 14, 2015; $29.99) is an exquisite collection of captivating and thought-provoking photographs by award-winning photographer Melissa Ann Pinney that contemplate the essence of duality in our relationships and in the world that surrounds us. Pinney, whose work is in the permanent collections of dozens of American museums, including the Metropolitan, MoMA, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Getty, aims her lens at pairs—mostly, but not always human—that display or imply elusive connections of mind, of spirit, or of simply the act of being.
Edited and introduced by Pinney’s friend, New York Times bestselling author Ann Patchett, the volume is filled with memorable images that encase rich stories: two children at play, a pair of aging friends, parent and child, couples in love. But deeper meanings can lurk in the margins of the frame, in the expressions in the eyes, in the disconnect of the connection. Photographs without human subjects bear their own mysteries: two nesting tea cups, an indoor pool, two chairs in autumn.
Patchett, whose enthusiasm for Pinney’s vision helped bring this project to fruition, has paired the photographs with remarkable essays about the nature of two, commissioned from some of the best writers at work today: Edwidge Danticat, Barbara Kingsolver, Richard Russo, Elizabeth Gilbert, Susan Orlean, Alan Gurganus, Maile Meloy, Elizabeth McCracken, Jane Hamilton, and Billy Collins (who provides a beautiful poem celebrating “two creatures bound by wonderment.”)
“I’ve always been interested in watching people together. I wonder what their story is, who they are to each other,” Pinney writes in the preface. “”No matter how uninspired I feel, how dull I think a place is, when I look at the world through a camera a new beginning takes place.”
Filled with startling, sensitive images and nuanced prose, TWO is an illuminating keepsake of human experience, at once universal and unique.