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Sweetheart, You're a Real Work of Art

Since most of Maria Shubina's paintings are called "Me," visiting her exhibition at Fine Art gallery is a bit like flipping through a friend's photo album: Here's a close-up of Masha, here's Masha with snails on her breasts, here's Masha licking a blonde's chin. What sets Shubina's snapshot portraiture apart from the softcore oils for sale on the Arbat -- besides being bigger and more skillfully executed -- is her unusual mixture of old media with new. The artist posts her paintings on Internet dating sites and then hangs them in galleries along with e-mails from her would-be suitors.

Shubina, who graduated from the National Academy of Art and Architecture in her native Kiev in 2003, has firmly established her Internet persona. On all of her online profiles she uses the same alias -- "femaleart" -- and the same pitch: young Ukrainian artist in search of an intelligent man to help her realize her project. Curators and gallery owners a plus.

Not all dating sites are willing to participate in her project. Some of the more strictly moderated sites, such as www.mail.ru, have rejected Shubina's profiles for "improper use of the service." In a recent interview, the artist said she wasn't sure why.

"I don't know if they think I'm trying to sell paintings through their site or if they just don't like the fact that they're paintings," Shubina said.

To minimize the risk of rejection, Shubina submits profiles to dozens of sites at a time and looks up sites based in foreign countries to get more coverage. She said that she sometimes adjusted her profile to suit the location. "A questionnaire on an Australian site asked me what my ideal first date would be," Shubina said. "I wrote: the Sydney Bienniale."

Shubina hasn't noticed widely different reactions to her profiles from men of different nationalities, but she said that U.S. dating sites were the most intrusive: "They ask you about your political beliefs, your religion and whether or not you're a vegetarian."

So far, Shubina hasn't been able to find the curator of her dreams online. She frankly admitted that "people who use dating sites usually aren't interested in art."

In fact, a cursory reading of the e-mails Shubina has hung up around Fine Art makes it clear that the men who wrote to her either did not realize that femaleart's JPGs were paintings or chose to pretend that they were photographs. Many e-mails echo the sentiments of a Hawaiian Romeo who wrote: "I have never been to the countries of the former U.S.S.R., but I would love to see them, especially with someone as beautiful as you."

Shubina doesn't have a weak spot for such flattery. In her correspondence, she always steers the conversation toward art. Take, for example, her response to a British admirer who sent a pair of revealing photos: a rear view of him naked save for a towel over his shoulder and a frontal shot of him opening his shirt suggestively.

Her reply: "Are you a curator? A gallery owner? Or just an exhibitionist?"

Source: The Moscow Times

Disclaimer - The contents of my news section are taken from Russian sources and are included here for information purposes only. By including this information I hope to give readers an insight into Russian life. I am in no way endorsing, agreeing or supporting any views contained within.


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