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Elizabeth Rakhilkina

Elizabeth Rakhilkina

My visual practice is centered around the bodies and identities of queer individuals from marginalized communities (Russia and the American South). Being a queer woman who immigrated to the USA following the conservative changes in my home country, I feel it is important not to create more possibly exploitative work about discrimination or queer suffering but to make art focused on the dichotomy of sexuality and nakedness through the lens of the queer femme gaze. My hope is not just to document the lives of marginalized communities that I see my own reflection in, but to create an intimate bond with them using the lens as a gluing agent. 

In the photographs I submitted are featured women, queers and crossdressers from the American South in the attempt to deconstruct a preconceived idea of a classical decadent nude. These images take body parts — that are so often misrepresented in media as solely objects of desire — and intentionally rob them of their sensuousness in order to challenge the stale and toxic tradition of the typical womxn nude image created not for the sake of the model but for the beholder. In its place, I offer a nakedness in these images that is devoid of any moral posturing, a simple matter of fact that allows subjects to feel safe and secure in their own skin. That is why in these photographs I use obscuring environments, shadowed angles and unclear shapes to confuse the viewer, robbing them of the usual markers that prompt them to equate nakedness with an instant sexual urge.