This project is based on photographs taken by Helen Mayorova during an annual Gay Pride in Brighton, UK, in August 2017. A talented artist Helene Vasileva took this cover-story-type photo shots and transformed them into works of art persuading the audience to ponder on censorship, self-censorship and homophobic tendencies in Russia.
People are hidden behind strokes of paint and pieces of mosaic. Who are they? Gay Pride participants, passersby, gay or straight, locals or tourists who came to this Southern town to join the festivities?
We can’t openly show these images in Russia as they can be considered inappropriate or offensive, be misinterpreted, misunderstood or treated with too much pathos as current local way of life is very peculiar about LGBT issues. That is why the audience will never know what exactly is hidden behind self-censured works of art. Bodies are retouched using various artistic techniques in order not to offend, disturb or provoke a visitor coming to the gallery to see “fine quality art”. The only unretouched images left are those bearing empty landscapes: the sun-lit sky, the sea, the remains of an old historic sea railroad that went along Brighton’s coastline, the Summer Palace in pseudo Oriental style. As soon as the camera turns around towards people enjoying or simply passing through the Pride self-censorship comes into business keeping in mind that it is better to prevent a possible offense than inflict it and “better this way than no way at all” ((c) as written by famouse Russian author Alexander Belyaev) so authors have chosen this approach in order to show at least something.
What is there, in the Richter-style overpainted photographs, disguised with Skittles candies? Are there horrible liberal scenes of inappropriate behavior or simply portraits of common people who treat gay-pride as an ordinary holiday? Is everything bad or normal? Ordinary or unconventional?
Each viewer can use their own imagination to think of what Helene Vasileva has hidden in the pictures. Was it even necessary to be hidden? May be we can examine the original photographs ourselves without anyone protecting us and make our minds if what we see is good or bad, if it is worth to be displayed in public or really better to be concealed.
Is it correct to deprive people from the opportunity to form their own opinion on various issues of life and art?
Colours are chosen to convey the feeling of the day when pictures were taken: that was a bright, warm sunny day. Authors suggest the viewer should dive into that atmosphere and think of what could and could not happen there.
You can’t see this, but would you like to be able to look at the photographs “au naturel” and decide for yourselves if you like them or not? You are mature, educated, smart individuals that are worth to tell what is good for you and what is bad – just like Biblical Adam and Eve who had finally got the ability to tell the Evil from the Good – they have already suffered to grant this ability to their descendants.
These are questions Helene Vasileva and Helen Mayorova want you to answer.
You can’t see this but you can think of it.