Dzina Danilovich, Mikhail Gulin
Fight for Art

(2019)
PRAFOTA 2020 Art Photography Short-list
The aesthetics of sports has been a subject of interest for artists and sculptors since ancient times. All cultures across the globe have paid tribute to the plasticity of an athletic body as a standard of perfection. In this project, Mikhail Gulin and Dzina Danilovich explore spheres which usually remain out of the public eye. The artists represent the athlete’s body as a tool, without idolising or sexualising it. They pay special attention to the aesthetics of wrestling, which is an almost unknown realm outside gyms. For example, a wrestler’s "cauliflower ears" are often perceived as a deviation, since people associate the phenomenon with injury. Meanwhile, athletes themselves treat this peculiarity with respect and find it appealing. They say a "cauliflower ear" is an athlete’s business card. None of the photos gives the viewer a broad, overall picture. Only if considered as a whole, they develop into a large, complete work of art, which leaves considerable room for interpretation. The world of sports is changing. It increasingly responds to current challenges. In its turn, art also tries to raise new topics which used to be outside the contemporary discourse.

"Mikhail Gulin offered me a photography-related collaborative project. Initially, he only wanted me to photograph the freestyle and Greco-Roman style wrestlers' "cauliflower ears" in order to record this bodily feature of athletes doing certain kind of sports. The athletes were photographed as they were training. During the first photo shoot, which actually left me with nothing, except for a couple of wrestling footages, I realised that I did not want the project to be about shooting "cauliflower ears" and nothing else. So, I planned to make portraits of athletes as well as photos of torsos and ears during the next photo shoot, which lasted about two hours. I had two or three minutes for each athlete. All in all, I managed to photograph a total of 40 people. Male physicality is the topic I have been exploring for a long time as an artist. While working on this project, I found myself in a very closed male community. My artistic vision and the athletes' pragmatic attitude to their bodies differed drastically".
Dzina Danilovich
Short-list 2020: