Alex transcends the Balkans for a bottle of perfume

PHOTOGRAPHY | CREATIVE CONCEPT | PROJECT

Is l’amour de soi a “proper” way to express oneself in the Balkans?

(grant proposal, Prix Elysee)

 

The aim of this visual study is to showcase third-wave feminist stances from the Balkan region, while trying to pinpoint their vraisemblance as opposed to zeitgeist mimicry. As an Eastern European “Xennial”, I have lived through several sociopolitical appropriations in my part of the world, most of them clashing thunderously against traditionalism. Feminism was more of a guerrilla-aspiration in the Balkans within the past three decades, with urban pockets of casual victories; sometimes, it was just a mass-media glossy trend; some other times, it was reactionary posturing. As a male visual artist, I’ve decided to visually listen.

Consequently, I will travel through the most extensive Balkan areal, from Odessa to Trieste, and I will try to capture on film the most relevant expressions of liberty and femininity, with as little social contextualization as possible. Please note that I will not constrict myself to nude photography. It was just impactful happenstance that my first Romanian model for this project decided that nudity would be her “weapon of choice”; it was my on-the-spot decision to focus on body language rather than on facial expression.  Therefore, while the praxis will vary, the unifying red thread of the series will be an aesthetic one.

The technique I am using for this series is restricted to the manual processing of the 6×6 medium format film negatives, followed by combinations of  post-development brutal retouches and graphic annotations, using several types of special inks and nibs directly on the negatives. I opted for this form of seemingly chaotic calligraphy in order to emphasize an entropic sense of identity that occasionally requires additional layers of societal obscurity. Successive corrosive alterations of the film ensue, up to the brink of physical disintegrations. The final technical step calls for a particular form of film scanning, which erases futile nuances and defensive artifacts.

On a final note, the theoretical background for my project was rooted initially in Michel Foucault (“Surveiller et punir : Naissance de la prison” (1975) and “L’Histoire de la sexualité” (1976-2018)) and Efrat Tseëlon (“The Masque of Femininity. The Presentation of Woman in Everyday Life.” (1995)). Then I’ve returned to J.J. Rousseau, hence the introductory question…

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