While working on a new youth-focused magazine in Mozambique, the Swiss photographer Flurina Rothenberger decided to start taking photos of young couples in the southeast African country.
"Love, of course, belongs to a basic issue this young generation engages with," says the 38-year-old photographer. "The fundamental subjects such as education, job, money and love are often very tightly linked. Photographing and interviewing couples reveals many distinctive aspects of a specific society and culture. At the same time it is a subject every audience can globally relate to and it holds a very entertaining side too."
Approaching strangers in the street, she was struck by how open many of the couples were.
"It was very interesting since I've worked and stayed in several different African countries. How open the topics of love, sex and relationships are addressed varies strongly. Ultimately this depends on the individual person you're talking to, but there is a general social code. Normally I wouldn't ask a couple I have just met to kiss for the camera without explaining the idea first. Here, this was no issue at all, which surprised me."
Accompanying the images are short interviews about love and relationships, conducted by Mozambican journalist Mahiriri Ossuka. Rothenberger found the responses to be very revealing about the society.
"Jealousy is a big issue and social media strongly plays into that. Be it that he's annoyed that she doesn't pick up the phone because she's too busy chatting with her friends on WhatsApp or she is intrigued by the fact that he doesn't block his ex-girlfriends on Facebook."
She was also surprised by the dynamics found within the relationships.
"In nearly all interviews, it was clear that both consider the man as being in charge of the companionship, even if never explicitly pronounced. It's revealing not only in terms of what goes on between two individual beings, but also about a general movement inside a society. Companionship it seems, just like so many other subjects here, has its feet rooted in tradition and its arms stretched in the spirit of the time."
Interviews by Mahiriri Ossuka
Photographs by Flurina Rothenberger