One of my earliest memories is of the sway of my mother’s bare breasts as she danced in the sunset by the seaside with her friends. I was ashamed and I was crying.
Shortly afterwards, my parents divorced. I grew up in a small town with my traditionalist grandmother, who prayed every Sunday in an Orthodox church. She taught me that any revelation of body is not just unacceptable in public, but hardly tolerable at home.
I moved into my mom’s house in Moscow when I was 15. The first thing I experienced was a view of my stepfather’s penis at breakfast. My stepfather, who was a nudist, walked naked to the kitchen and set with his legs wide open in front of me. Scrambled eggs on the table were hard to look at. This was the first time I ever saw a penis.
Social norms on human body intrigue me. Growing up in the era of Perestroika, I come to age during my country’s integration into Western preoccupation with personal freedom and individuality. My childhood and youth served as a starting point for using the camera to establish my own relationships to the idea of exposure. I never had a lot of friends and stayed home for most of my life, yet it was photography that gave me strength to interact with others. I photograph people only, because they are strange, and unknown.
My photographs are about desire – desire not only to make a good picture in terms of structural beauty, but also to dominate my subjects in order to approach them as objects or sculptures. Making photographs is an unscripted performance. My subject performs for the camera as I perform for them in order to get as deep as I can from them physically and emotionally. My subjects are people who I am attracted to and my wish is to capture them in the moments when their sense of self-consciousness is dismantled and no longer private, right when their natural instincts are revealed. The resulting pictures are the evidence of an intimate experience that transforms both my subject and myself into someone we have never been before, and, in many cases, we fear.
I am driven by the idea of perverse. I engage myself in dialog with the widespread tradition of romantic sexual paintings, reborn in our days in the form of advertisement and mainstream cinema, which promote the superficial idea of being beautiful, perfectly fit, forever young, and perpetually in love. I enjoy pictures of »beautiful« people when they are depicted in the ways that are unfiltered and defy the preconceived idea of beauty. The most successful images for me are those that you cannot stop looking at because of the ambiguity of a beautiful subject portrayed in a weird, unflattering and even sad way. My pictures are about sex: sex that we will never have but we can’t stop thinking about. They are about the loneliness that we will not be able to overcome, loneliness that is left to us after all.