TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE PROJECT HAS COME TO BE BY THE REALIZATION THAT THE REAL MORAL IMPERATIVE IS NOT TO REMAIN PASSIVE ON THE FACE OF HATRED AND INJUSTICE. THAT'S HOW A GROUP OF MONTREAL ARTISTS AND COLLABORATORS CAME TOGETHER TO MAKE A STAND AGAINST THE RECENT WAVE OF INSTITUTIONALIZED HOMOPHOBIA AND THE RUTHLESS VIOLENCE THAT EXISTS IN RUSSIA TOWARDS OUR LGBTQ BROTHERS AND SISTERS. TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE IS YET ANOTHER POWERFUL INSTALLATION THAT DEMANDS OUR ATTENTION TO WHAT IS HAPPENING.
Recognizing the fact that art heals and breaks cultural and language boundaries, a group on Montreal artists and collaborators under the lead of visual artist Damián Siqueiros have embarked on a series of photographs entitled "To Russia With Love" devoted to raise awareness about Russia's infringement on our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. “To Russia With Love” portrays iconic and influential queer figures from Russia's history, tracing a line from 19th century to our time. These characters are without doubt some of Russia's influential figures: Tchaikovsky, ballet dancer Nijinsky or the feminist couple Maria Feodorova and Anna Yevreinova. In the Russian historical narrative their homosexual identities have been effaced. “To Russia with Love” validates those identities and it puts them on the forefront as the source of love, happiness and inspiration. “By producing these photographs featuring Russian queer characters, one can discover the forgotten, buried history, and begin to breakdown stereotypes and fears,” comments Damián Siqueiros. “As an artist I cannot stand by and watch the erosion of human rights grow around the world."
“To Russia With Love” project seeks to create conversations around the topic with a compassionate and positive perspective by showing the images in as many galleries around the world as possible, as well as social media. The team is also committed to creating a dialogue with artists based in Russia by adding their artwork at each new exhibition, giving them the opportunity to shatter their imposed silence. The project is led by visual artist and photographer Damian Siqueiros, who has collaborated with prestigious magazines and clients such as: Vogue Mexico, Elle and Les Grands Ballets Canadians. He's a seeker of true beauty and an avid believer and defender of gender equality and the rights for gender diversity.
Damian Siqueiros and his equally passionate collaborators believe that fighting hatred with hatred is as nonsensical as trying to extinguish a fire with gasoline. “To Russia With Love” project is therefor a non-aggressive installation and does not seek to condemn those who perpetrate injustice, but to heighten the value of love and to validate the couples and the identities of our Russian brothers and sisters from the LGBT community. The couples in the photographs are represented on a stage that resembles that of a photography studio in the end of the 19th century. The colors and elements of the images have been chosen carefully to reflect that era as well as the romantic hues of Russian art. We see unequivocally Russian elements, such as the contemporary flag or the St. Petersburg Cathedral and the religious icon. The latter stand as a symbol of the shameful role the church plays on the violence and collective homophobia of Russians. “To Russia With Love” was launched officially on January 23 and could of course not have come at a better moment. Since the passage of the anti-gay propaganda law in 2013 many discussions have been sparked and the Winter Olympics currently held in Sochi have only added oil to the flames. Bu “To Russia With Love” project goes much further than today.
During the next months, the “To Russia with Love” project will be exhibited through North America. With the help of the New York-based Russian magazine and a fund raising campaign, an exhibition will be presented in that city in June 2014 as a part of the Pride festivities. Montreal will host the exhibition in May 2015 at Galerie Dentaire. During the exhibitions a live-video-link will be established with gay artists living in Russia, thus creating a dialogue with the creative forces of this country and their experiences. In addition, a part of the profits from the sales of the works will be donated to the ONG Russian LGBTQ Network, dedicated to the support of sexual minorities in Russia. “To Russia with Love” will also benefit from the sponsorship of the gay app Hornet -2.4 million users worldwide, from which 200 thousand are in Moscow- that will support the promotion of the project.
If you want to know more about the “To Russia With Love” project you can visit the official website and equally the project’s kickstarter page where you can pledge and sponsor the campaign to endure this strong visual voice will not go by unnoticed. You can also get in direct contact with the organization by emailing them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. “To Russia With Love” project will serve the purpose of provoking conversations around the topic with a compassionate and positive perspective. "Beauty will save the world" and you can be a part of it. –BM-
Photography and art direction: Damián Siqueiros.
Models: Roscoe Stone (Nijinsky) | Miguel Doucet (Diaghilev) | Sebastien Beaupre (Stalin impersonator) | Tristan Harris (Putin impersonator) | Stephane Amnotte (Tchaikovsky) | Rachel Salzman (Policewoman) | Antonia Dolhaine (Athlete) | Claire Crombez (Maria Feodorova) | Evelyne-Louise Bergeron (Anna Yevreinova).
Additional Credits: Guillermo Castellanos (BTS Video) | Diana Gonzalez Caballero (Assistant to Production) | Sophie Graziani (Stylist/Costume Designer) | Olivier Vinet (Make-up Artist) | Cathy L (Hair Stylist) | Gigiola Caceres (2nd Assistant) | Camille Sabbagh (Assistant to styling and make-up) | Bérenger Zyla (1st Assistant) | Daniel Barkley (Painter- background and masks) | Patricia Doss (Agent) | Liliana Ortiz and Mateo H Casis (BTS material) | Antoine Aubert (Communications collaborator) | Arnaud Baty (Graphic Design).
TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE OFFICIAL PAGE | BEAUTIFULMAG
TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE KICKSTART | BEAUTIFULMAG