Igor Mukhinimg167 (2009)

I’ve been looking at a metric fuck ton of Mark Steinmetz’s photos lately. And the reason I mention him is because of the fact that although I adore his use of space, he compositions don’t adhere to any ideal with which I am familiar.

With Mukhin, I can always draw a diagram. For example in the above image the staging from left to right of the nude male (standing in a modified contrapposto stance), the woman (whose semi-striding pose wouldn’t be out of place in one of those infamous Soviet war memorials) and the towel/purse hanging from the sapling form a triad that is not only easy to scan but also suggests a downhill slope from right to left toward the stream.

There’s also the little details: the darkest points in the frame are the purse and her inseam. This pulls the eye back to the man’s carefully man-scaped, uncircumcised member. (I enjoy the contradiction in his more modest post and the way she seems to be standing to block him from view slightly even though clearly whatever led up to this scene didn’t involve any sort of concern for modesty).

In fact, that’s what I think I dig most about Mukhin’s work: even aside from the fact that he tends to release images in groups inclusive of a particular happening, removed from the grouping there’s still very much a feeling of the image as rooted firmly in a very particular milieu. The virtue of what is included is that it points strongly towards what was excluded.

(In a value-neutral judgment, Steinmetz’s photos are dislocated, free floating, timeless. Thus his tendency to name images with their location.)

And I’m not sure if it’s because the first thing I encountered of Mukhin’s was his more erotic imagery but to me the specter of permissive sexuality seems to always resonate with his work. Such as here, where I can’t help wondering if what I think might have led to the need to brush one’s teeth is why the woman is brushing her teeth.

This photograph verges on being narrative because I want to know the nature of the events that led up to this moment. And the thing that Mukhin is so talented at doing is presented as a story something that he as the image maker stands in the same position as the viewer with regards to curiosity as far as origination.

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