In our time, there is nothing so elusive than innocence. Shameless modernity makes getting rid of innocence with diapers, bringing down on the young generation a flurry of images charged with a basic instinct to the maximum. Nabokov turns in the coffin from the fact that the name of Lolita became a category of porn, and Shakespeare’s Prince Florizel nowadays turned into moaning in YouTube Justin Bieber.
Nevertheless, the ability to capture something elusive is, of course, a good rule in art.
Nikita Shaleny’s new project “Penetration,” tells of the journey of a young Florizel driven by desires from the rosary of childhood to the garden of pleasures, turning into a desert of reality, where he will either become wise Prospero or degrade into the vile Caliban.
But so far the the name of the young prince perfectly suited to young hero in this series of photographs. He embodies the elusively tender flower age, described by the artist as “floral age,” whose petals fly so fast in the wind of life’s changes. According to Nikita Shalenny, it was very difficult to find such a protagonist who balances on the verge of childishness and adulthood.
The project “Penetration” includes the viewer into the game starting by the most pornographic name, casting allusions of Begbeder’s writings. One of his heroes claimed: the main thing in the relationship between a man and a woman is to shorten the distance. Come to the woman at a distance of one meter, dancing with her, reducing the distance to fifty centimetres, whispering stupid things in your ear from eight centimetres, pressing your lips to her lips — a distance of zero centimetres. “The goal is to reach a negative distance due to the penetration of an enthetic body inside this person.”
However, this deliberate indecency contains a veiled subtext. Penetration is, first of all, a heartfelt story. This is an extremely frank narrative about the deep experiences of an adolescent of the growing up in a relationship with the opposite sex. And, according to the artist, these relations exclude the sign of equality, because they are based on the principle of struggle for territory within each other.
Sex only for pleasure, is as rare now as innocence itself. Sex has transformed from the goal into an asserting oneself in front of others. In other words, sexual impulses are imbued with motives of power, dominance over a partner and affirmation in society.
Despite the fact that this project seems at first sight vulnerable to criticism from feminist positions, the fact remains that women readily join this game, becoming an object with the same goal of self-affirmation in the patriarchal social model. This is a game of alpha males and alpha females, where it is difficult to separate social motives from biological.
Nikita Shalenny says, “It seems to me that inter-sex relations are always built on the principle of domination, someone takes initiative, power, the other has to accept this power and submit. It means that there can’t be equality by definition. It does not mean that I accept someone’s side but it seems to me, that’s the reality.”
That’s why the young dreamy hero, going to his ideal, is armed with a whip, as if Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, which is so in contrast with his youthful appearance.
Of course, nothing forbids the viewer to read this story literally, but these photos are not about the formation of the young Marquis de Sade. It is a mirage shaded by the gloomy industrial scenery. It is fantasy and dreams of the opportunity to conquer, possess, dominate and receive the desired.
Storylines (10 storylines, 150 x 225 cm)