Aleksandar Kujucev art photography - Forever

 

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FOREVER™

Billboards by Aleksandar Kujučev

For some years now, I'm supporting myself, my art and now my family, by doing commercial photography for the advertising industry.
As a photographer, I feel that I'm "living a lie". I'm really frustrated with that.
Modern obsession with eternal youth and good looks is exploited and brought to extreme in advertising. In some recent studies, youth, sex and good looks are the most important of eight magic ingredients that are in the essence of successful advertising. We are bombarded on a daily basis with commercials for magic Q10 anti ageing crèmes, no dandruff / high volume shampoos, lipstick that lasts ten hours, teeth whitening chewing gums and tooth pastes, electric belts that will make you slim again... and many more.
Sometime in the not too distant future, the beauty and health industry might benefit more from genetic researches... If scientists figure out how does degradation of genes that causes ageing work, humans could live and stay young forever. There are also some speculations how that could affect mental development - if you live, let's say, six or seven hundred years, you would take responsibilities in your life much later... you get out of puberty being 150, getting married at 300...
Being in the advertising business, I wanted to do a fake campaign for the (fake) ultimate product that will make you young and fit forever. I decided to combine extreme youth - babies, with extreme physical fitness - body builders!
I persuaded local billboard company to sponsor me by giving me the billboards and I went into production which was identical to my other commercial productions - from photo shoot to Adobe Photoshop, and then to print.
The idea was not to "take the art to the streets" as in many other billboard art projects I've seen. I wanted to mimic real billboard campaign and to confuse people on the streets. It was a success: some pointed at billboards laughing, some looked away in disgust, but nobody was indifferent and this is by itself a sign of successful ad campaign... I had billboards both on the Belgrade streets and in the Belgrade Cultural Center gallery.

 

SEND IN THE CLONES

(text from the catalogue)

We all need to question the latest headlines about human cloning.
Dr. Paul Shields and Dr. Ian Wilmut, in a letter to Nature, reported that Dolly has slightly stunted telomeres. Telomeres are DNA strands at each end of a cell's DNA that become shorter with each cell division. There has been speculation that telomeres are a sort of clock that tells cells it's time to stop dividing and die, but reality has not proven to be so simple. The researchers reported that Dolly's telomeres were 20 percent shorter than those of sheep who are not clones.
First, all the reasons the "telomere finding" is not so bad:
Excerpt from the text "Analysis of telomere lengths in cloned sheep" NATURE, May 27, 1999:316-317

Dream of constant reproduction, of unending, perfect body, eternal youth in which there are no radical breaks, empty spaces, interruptions or growing pains. In a word - Dream of eternal Wholeness. This is one of the faces of the primal human fantasy. We can not but to recall the myth of Anchises, Aeneis' father and Venus' lover for whom later has negotiated with gods secret of life without end. But Olympians, being jealous and fickle lot, found a way to harm him. You see, Anchises possessed life without end, he continued living no matter what but he also continued to deteriorate, to age. In the end he simply faded away, like too little butter spread over too much bread.

Maybe that is why our encounter with these images - heads of the cute, cherubic, pre-school children grafted on massive, oiled, material, healthy bodies of professional athletes - represent this phantasm at its purest. These bodies stand for the impossibility, an successful Anchises. Perfect body coupled with eternal youth. These bodies, these organisms, appear almost too natural instead to invoke feeling of chimera. Smooth skin, chubby cheeks & round, well-formed muscles coated in fine fat fit together like pieces of long-lost puzzle, blending perfectly, hiding all traces of stitches or scars that would reveal some internal antagonism of these images. That seamlessness, conjures dread more intense than any evoked by grimaces of Boris Karloff. That lack, lack of antagonism, also reveals to us these images as illusory since Real is by definition antagonistic.
What does it hold for us? That maybe what today appears as insurmountable obstacle, constitutive impossibility of cloning opens space for full articulation of human potential, Which is one inherently of lack and limitation. Although it now seems that all clones, even though possessing potentially beneficial or superior to "ordinary human" genetic modifications [stronger body, higher IQ, etc], would also have very limited expiry date. Just like replicants in Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner". Maybe that limit, which we now feel is inbuilt in the cloning process is also that thing stands for the ultimate horizon of humanity. The fact that we all have inbuilt expiry date, is what is constitutive part of our state. But to reach that horizon, that understanding, we have first to traverse realm of baby-builders. There we will probably find Kierkegaard waiting for us because fear of death is minor when confronted with the fear of eternity.

 

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FOREVER™ in the Art Gallery of the Cultural Center of Belgrade

 

FOREVER™ on billboards on Belgrade streets