New erotic pho­to­book mixes in­trigu­ing plot and aes­thet­ics

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - BY TOMA I STOMINA [email protected]

Paris, the 1960s. In an apart­ment build­ing, chil­dren switch all the door num­bers, send­ing peo­ple look­ing for one res­i­dence to the wrong ad­dress.

This is the chaotic plot that Ukrainian pho­tog­ra­pher Rus­lan Lobanov, 38, dreamed up as the ba­sis for an artis­tic book with erotic pho­to­graphs.

“The Wrong Door” fea­tures pho­to­graphs de­pict­ing what hap­pens in each apart­ment in a build­ing af­ter un­ex­pected guests ar­rive. Ev­ery set of photos is ac­com­pa­nied by a story.

The 176-page book costs $130 and con­tains both color and black-and­white photos that Lobanov shot over the last three years in France, Italy and Ukraine.

The cover of the book fea­tures a bare-breasted house­maid stand­ing in the door­way of a build­ing on a street in France.

“The woman could have been shot dressed, and it would ba­si­cally be al­most the same story. Naked­ness adds spice,” Lobanov told the Kyiv Post.

Un­like his pre­vi­ous books, in which the start­ing point for Lobanov was a char­ac­ter, with “The Wrong Door” he has gone in an­other di­rec­tion, build­ing the new book on a plot that he cre­ated in a sin­gle night.

“The Wrong Door” fea­tures the sto­ries of 25 apart­ments where ev­ery­thing gets mixed up: an ac­tress head­ing to a film set in­stead ar­rives at the house of a pro­fes­sor who is wait­ing on some stu­dents to take an exam; some old men play­ing chess are wait­ing on their friend to join them but in­stead find an elite pros­ti­tute at their door.

Lobanov says that, de­spite the mishaps, all of the sto­ries turn out well in the end.

At times, Lobanov felt like a hostage of his own project. While shoot­ing for the book over three years, it was hard to main­tain in­spi­ra­tion, he says.

Be­cause all of the sto­ries were in­ter­con­nected, Lobanov couldn’t miss out any of the apart­ments. The puzzle would have crum­bled, he says.

“Such lim­i­ta­tions slightly an­noy an artist.”

Still, while it wasn’t easy to com­plete, the pho­tog­ra­pher says he is happy with “The Wrong Door,” as it was an op­por­tu­nity to have a new and use­ful ex­pe­ri­ence.

Pri­est on set

The pho­to­shoots were held in Paris and Angers in France, in Venice, Italy, and in Kyiv and Lviv in Ukraine.

For one of the sto­ries shot in Paris, Lobanov even had to be­come a model and play one of the char­ac­ters.

It was for the story of a dy­ing man who is wait­ing for a pri­est. In­stead, his char­ac­ter gets a visit from two fe­male stu­dents head­ing to a pro­fes­sor to take an exam. Be­cause the stu­dents didn’t at­tend lec­tures, they had no idea it wasn’t their pro­fes­sor and were ready to do any­thing to pass. The story takes an un­ex­pected turn: In the photo, one of the stu­dents is tak­ing off her clothes, the other one is al­ready sit­ting on pro­fes­sor's lap, half-naked.

Lobanov says that the man who was sup­posed to play the dy­ing char­ac­ter hap­pened to be burst­ing with good health, while he him­self, af­ter a busy week of shoot­ing and early morn­ings, was in the per­fect kind of con­di­tion to play the role.

An­other ad­ven­ture hap­pened to Lobanov’s team while shoot­ing the story about the pri­est who was sup- posed to visit the dy­ing man. He ar­rives at an apart­ment where three women are hav­ing a hen party and are wait­ing for a strip­per to come to en­ter­tain them.

The pho­to­shoots were held in Venice, a city in deeply re­li­gious and Catholic Italy.

Lobanov says that he had to walk the length and breadth of Venice to find a pri­est’s out­fit for rent.

Luck­ily, he was helped out by his Ital­ian friend Al­fredo, a jew­eler who played the pri­est for the book and whose brother hap­pened to be a real pri­est.

Lobanov says that apart from that story, he wanted to shoot one of the op­tions for the cover pho­to­graph out­side. Be­cause of Ital­ians’ morals, it had seemed im­pos­si­ble, but ev­ery­thing worked out due to Al­fredo’s brother be­ing present.

“We had a pri­est on the set.”

Per­fec­tion­ism

Lobanov says that for him, pho­tog­ra­phy is both work and the love of his life.

That is why the pho­tog­ra­pher shoots the same sto­ries as many times as it takes to achieve the per­fect re­sult.

He uses a film cam­era and usu­ally takes from 10 to 15 shots, which is a whole reel of film, for a sin­gle pic­ture. While work­ing on “The Wrong Door” Lobanov shot half of the sto­ries twice, and some of them three times.

Apart from that, the pho­tog­ra­pher pays a great deal of at­ten­tion to de­tails, and uses au­then­tic props to main­tain re­al­ism.

“Sat­u­rat­ing a pho­to­graph with de­tails gives view­ers an op­por­tu­nity to read a pic­ture for a sec­ond and a third time," he says.

The pho­tog­ra­pher is al­ready plan­ning his next book, “Château,” which is to be re­leased next year. Con­tain­ing mostly black-and-white photos shot over a pe­riod of nine years, the book is cen­tered on Brit­tany, a re­gion in the north­west of France. Work­ing with erotic pho­tog­ra­phy for over 12 years, Lobanov be­lieves that eroti­cism is the ba­sis of ev­ery­thing. He says that it is no co­in­ci­dence that a naked body and Eros, the god of de­sire, were im­por­tant in the art and cul­ture of the an­cient Greeks and Ro­mans.

How­ever, as with ev­ery­thing, mod­er­a­tion is re­quired, he says.

“The main thing here is to know the lim­its, be­cause the Ro­mans got a bit car­ried away.”

Ukrainian erotic pho­tog­ra­pher Rus­lan Lobanov shows his new book “The Wrong Door” on Dec. 7. (Volodymyr Petrov)

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