My Existence = My Resistance

Artist Statement


That’s Me In the Corner (Everybody Hurts), 2016


My work is intended not to arouse or entertain but to raise questions about identity and displacement based on my personal dissident and immigrant experience.

Coming from the conservative and oppressive Soviet background, I examine the very concept of shame by being completely shameless. Inspired by Vladimir Mayakovsky's revolutionary slogan, 'Down with your love, Down with your art, Down with your regime, Down with your religion,' I wanted to live my life through art, and wanted my life to become art, too.

Throughout the years, poetry and photography remained my main passion and outlet, but I've always felt limited by any particular genre or medium and eventually expanded my practice first beyond text, then beyond still, two-dimensional image. Just like my writings, my art tells stories of real people, real emotions and experiences. An avid voyeur, I'm best at documenting people in intimate, vulnerable settings. This way I can much better capture their true selves.

Personal connection with my subjects is essential to my work, and I'd never ask them to do something that I wouldn’t have done myself. The point is, my subjects must be totally comfortable with me and my camera in order for me to photograph them. It’s about collaboration in a very broad sense. It's about mutual trust, respect and compassion. It's about love and beauty in different shapes and forms. It's about my constant search for a new language and sensibility, new romatic ideals.

I look for primal beauty and innocence in unconventional and often explicit scenes that might be considered ‘obscene,’ ‘shocking,’ or ‘perverse.’ I find these kinds of scenes totally engaging and inspiring, without expecting any moral approval or reproach. As Rimbaud once proclaimed, ‘Morality is a type of brain disease!’ I’ve always enjoyed breaking taboos and stereotypes. I think that’s what real art is about, and I've paid my dues for expressing myself in the most radical and honest way.