«I’m in a crowded marketplace. I’m passing along an endless row. I’m not picky this time. I’m choosing an image. I’m, too, being chosen. I need to meet a person. I know my intention. I need to know this person’s intention. I know he would keep himself in a safe zone. He would see me at his place. He would pose me in his common environment. He needs a presence of another person looking at him. He needs a presence of another person to pose. A person would be placed in a center, I’d be hiding behind. He could stop anytime he liked. Communication could be symmetrical. Phallocentric communication could be symmetrical. Every communication is phallocentric. It feels fine to be alienated from own depiction. Gaze can be not possessive.
I come to a place. I look at a person. We have a short talk. I’m preparing. I let him present himself any way he likes. To choose a sequence. I’m being watched by a person. It takes time. I start to contemplate his forehead. Apparently, he does the same. In an hour I’m tired and frustrated. I need a reward. Anybody would need in my place».
This project researches an issue of personal relations agented by a dating platform: a space of trust and intimacy, from the one hand, and an exploiting game with a lack of empathy, from the other. Asymmetric communication and exploitation became the leitmotif of the series. Talking about exploitation of gaze (in its wobbly dominative/ submissive dimension in a system of social and gender correlations), and exploitation of reciprocal trust.
The majority of the models, who has voluntarily agreed for a shooting via dating platforms, were white men from 25 to 45. The core prerequisite of the project appeared to be a principle of choosing from a photo. Empathy establishing mechanism was tightly entangled with trust. Most of the respondents, knowing almost nothing about me, agreed to be photographed and filmed at their places. From my side, all the ideas of shooting setups were alienated from me and handed away to models. Apart from the photographs, I was filming staged video-portraits in my presence and in my absence.
Such an invasion of a camera-person into a personal space, as well as the fact the one obtained personal material afterward, remained outside the brackets. To lead this paradox to the extreme, I decided to materialize a symbolic act of appropriation and started to pocket some personal belongings of my models.
For me, this happens to be a performative trial to establish horizontal equal communication. From the very beginning, all actor’s positions were truly unstable. No-one could say for sure who was taking an advantage.
Ksenia Yurkova is a Russian artist currently based in Helsinki. She works primarily with photography, video and artist’s books. The main focus of her interest is language: the varieties of its substance, the possibility of conversion, its mythological aspect, stereotyping (the question of personal and political self-identification and identification by others), problems of memory, attitudes, and reliance. Ksenia Yurkova has taken part in numerous shows and festivals worldwide. At the moment she is studying towards her MFA at the Academy of Fine Arts of Uniarts Helsinki.