Blurring The Lines Of Conventional Beauty


Masha Demianova’s photos tell haunting tales of life as a woman in Moscow, asking us to question the difference between reality and fantasy

Published On: 11/10/2017

We wanted to find someone for this post that was saying something we could relate to. We sifted through a lot before we found Russian photographer, Masha Demianova. Her work immediately spoke to us in a way that none of the others had. Demianova’s work is dark, gritty and entirely visceral. One of the pioneers of female gaze photography in Russia, Demianova hails from Moscow. At only 28 years old, her images give you the notion that she has already lived a lifetime in her skin, and how she wants to show the rest of us what she has seen.

Her work stems from a world of experience, a place that isn’t afraid to challenge the notion of beauty, but also show the frailty and strength of the female form. A fashion photographer by trade, she also finds incredible subjects in that of her friends and city at large.

In her work, her rejection of the normalcy of prettiness is thrown aside to reveal images that are at once, cold yet remarkably intimate, at times challenging, but ultimately stunning in form. There’s a genuine darkness to them, almost as if the images were stills lifted from a film.

Demianova successfully creates a distinct narrative with each image, and we found ourselves getting lost in the landscapes, imagining ourselves inhabiting the spaces, conversing with the characters within them, disconnecting from reality. Her work has this effect on you as a viewer, you’re not quite sure if you’re experiencing a work of truth or fiction.

Her notion of femininity and beauty stray far from mainstream ideas and ideals. This is perhaps why we find her work so easy to connect to, it’s uniquely at odds with contemporary standards of each of these things and rubs against the grain.  She rejects the piles of bullshit that so many women are fed as they come of age, struggling to find their individual voices among the static and chaos of everything surrounding them.

Perhaps growing up in Moscow has this affect; in a country where feminism has been rejected by those in power, Demianova is making waves in the community by taking images of the everyday and exposing a narrative that weaves in and out of the current reality she’s inhabiting. In her free time, she mentors young photographers from Russia and Ukraine through a “virtual community” called RYE.

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Text by blog contributer: Joanna Lund