AMYR — АМУР
As the note to the Editorial Amyr states “Amur, it’s a criminal district of the local city in Russia (Siberia), Omsk. This story explores the new generation and male beauty in the harsh realities in provincial Russia”. Created by Creative Director Denis Merkushev and Photographer Bogdan Raletich the editorial shows a redefined male figure and narrates a story that is distinct, that is dictated by the reality so unfamiliar and detached from the general knowledge.
Denis in a most eloquent and vivid way relates to us the story behind the shoot, illustrating the atmosphere of the city of Omsk with its tough reality, the approach and the idea for styling of the editorial. The video shot on location enables us to sneak peek to the actual set, the work with the talents and the crest of the shoot - the burning of the fabric.
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky served his exile in the city, he wrote “Omsk is an ugly town. Dirty, military and lecherous in the highest degree"
Tell about the Amur district in the city of Omsk.
Amur is an unfortunate, industrial area in the poor Omsk city; it is a rather gloomy and dangerous place, especially in the evenings.
People running along the railroad tracks, stray dogs, gray five-storey apartment buildings, alcoholics going to get their morning beer, local guys in tinted-window-cars, whom it is better to avoid — all this is Amur.
How do you think the environment of the city affects the creative direction, the mood, the color, the stylists of the photoshoot?
Omsk is a very gray city and for the most part is devastated, the buildings are very gray, ramshackle and the city’s atmosphere is very depressing. A lot of industrial zones, abandoned factories, and cemeteries all are depicted in the works of local artists, stylists, and designers, as something always very gray, dim and emotionally complex. There are a lot of prisons in Omsk. Like Siberia, Omsk was the place of exile for the Decembrists. Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky served his exile in the city, he wrote “Omsk is an ugly town. Dirty, military and lecherous in the highest degree". A prison aesthetics is also explored in our shoot since it is a part of the city.
In terms of style the series features a combination of references to the 90s, to the criminal world, to a gothic scene, and to a modern experimental underground scene. What is the main connection between the different aesthetics and styles that presents this new male figure?
The 90s for the Russian regions was life. In the large cities and in Europe this topic is somehow ironized and sometimes romanticized; in provincial cities - that’s not a reference, but a reality. The main reference for me were ordinary men, adults from Amur or the other areas, they usually are dressed in worn clothes that show that once everything was better than it is now, and usually with all the "poverty" of their appearance, they look very fashionable. All I had to do was only transfer these looks to the shoot and modernize it a bit. I took all the clothes from the second-hand shops, it was a conscious decision to keep the style of “men from the suburbs”. In the process of shooting we really got this complex combination of different styles, but very organic and very Omsk-like.
Tell about the technical aspects of burning the fabrics and how did you film the scene?
The story of the burning fabric was the first visual that was born when preparing for the shooting. At first, I saw the location, and then I saw in the works of local, independent artists from the Left Leg Gallery a canister-backpack, which can be seen in the shoot. That’s how it all started.
We shot this scene in Amur, in the morning, it was very cold, about -30 Celsius, a local stray dogs barked at us, we were afraid that the locals would call the police or without waiting for the police go out and deal with us with in their own hands, so everything was very fast, since the time was very limited, the fabric was burning quickly, and the model was freezing.
"The main reference for me were ordinary men, adults from Amur or the other areas, they usually are dressed in worn clothes that show that once everything was better than it is now, and usually with all the "poverty" of their appearance, they look very fashionable".
Is the tattoo on one of the models real?
Tattoos are partially their own, if we talk about "domes" (cupola), then no, it was drawn, to convey the mood of the shooting.