In his upcoming show, Hold Your Breath, British photographer Rankin will explore what it means to love in the 21st century, an era of individualism and self-expression that has its own set of values as well as a completely new relationship rulebook.
Rankin says: "When I first met my wife Tuuli, she literally took my breath away. But when I look at relationships in this new digital world, everything feels so solitary and at arm's-length or, even worse, based on algorithms. I wanted to explore the ideas of romance and love in a positive and upbeat way. Where interaction and feelings are as important as swiping right or likes."
For this new generation, love is about authentic connections, not gender. Nearly half of British people aged 18-24 are choosing something other than heterosexual partnerships, as revealed when asked to plot themselves on a 'sexuality scale', and the younger generations are less interested in gender labels and more interested in being true to themselves.
In Rankin's latest exhibition, which features a new series of photographs plus a short documentary, he sets out to explore where love and relationships are going and what that means for us all.
"I really believe we are all toddlers in this digital world – we're all experiencing these things for the first time," Rankin adds. "So I felt it would be interesting to turn my lens to romance and love. Like most people, I think Valentine's Day is a sham. It's just another way to commercialise and commodify an important part of our lives. But I'm a romantic at heart and I still believe in love for the sake of love – whoever you're loving."
The pop-up exhibition at 21 Longacre Covent Garden will run for 10 days from 13 February. It will include a presentation of the new series of photographs exploring the subject, a live shoot with Rankin, a free photo booth (the world-famous Rankomat) and a store selling archive books and prints from Rankin's large body of work.
"Hold Your Breath is an exploration of love it will celebrate honesty in relationships, whatever way that expresses itself," says Rankin.