Vlad Zorin photographs intimate men with love, from Russia
In conversation with Matthew Burgos, January 11, 2023
People — Art, Photography
In Russia, Vlad Zorin photographs young men liberating themselves from the chains of conservatism. They open up to the photographer about sex, voyeurism, tasting bodies, tounges clashing, and the loss of sensibility in the midst of lust and ecstasy. Engrossing sex and casual affairs have given them power that is too overwhelming to repress. Not that they want to ever tramp it down again. Our new generation of young men is done with political foreplay. They take action to inform readers about the highs and lows of sex and affairs through their narratives, and no censorship can dictate the visual and written stories they tell.
Zorin compiles these photographs and texts in his book ‘With Love from Russia.’ Men in their white underwear wear their white eye masks, giving readers a taste of their playfulness. They let Zorin into their lives: while they shower, as they writhe in their bed, during their intimate times. The softcore photos become a comrade to explore the kind of company, relationship, sex, and fling readers want. Yet these raw confessional affairs are not purely about sex. They also expose the transient euphoria these young men have felt, from the pleasant sensation of one’s cock brushing against their legs to padding around naked in their curtainless apartment, intentionally letting their neighbors watch them. At times, the stories carry the pain of curiosity, vulnerability, illegality, and immorality. Radomir’s parents would have sex in front of him, and he would feel jealous. Maxim only dated his previous girlfriend because he wanted to understand what it felt like to date someone. Demid chatted with a stranger who told him he wanted to kiss him, so they did. Mark’s 37-year-old fling confessed to him that she loved him even though she was married and had three kids (Mark was 22 then). Each narrative contains personal encounters readers have longed for themselves and needed to understand who they are.
Zorin, along with his delicate photos, has created a dictionary that clears up one’s complex and tumultuous desires for physical and psychological connection. When he flew to Moscow, Zorin was taken aback by the numerous handsome guys wandering around in the city. He had affairs that lasted for months, but the photographer insisted he did not want to have sex with them. Among them, one stood out. The photographer remembers how this man held the cigarette between his fingers, brought it to his lips, and breathed the smoke out before he locked his gaze on Zorin. From that moment, he became his muse, leading Vlad Zorin to publish similar experiences in his book and speaking with Present Space about the mental barriers he had to overcome before he could freely talk about sex, pornography as a saving grace, the rigid traditions of masculinity, the climate of sex and sexuality in his hometown, and what came after the release of his book.
In conversation with MATTHEW BURGOS
Images courtesy of VLAD ZORIN
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