Yu. A. Galev takes pictures when people pose for him as well as when he wants to make a photograph himself, but he is always a participant in the events taking place. Whether the subjects are posing intentionally or looking away from the lens, by taking pictures of embraces, the photographer creates a particular space of closeness and trust, which we call a space of open feelings.
The photographs allow us to see that embraces, which we usually consider normal only in the privacy of married life or parenthood, encompass a significantly larger circle of human relationships. Moreover, we see that in general people of the same social status embrace — whether men and women, friends and relatives, classmates and girlfriends, colleagues and coworkers. Embraces create a kind of equality of status. Embraces are a gesture of affection and fondness, but not approval, conferral, or patronage.
The world of a person’s feelings does not coincide with the boundaries of his or her body — it is significantly larger. People embrace each other on occasions of grief or celebration; touching each other, they make their feelings mutual. What they experience is multifaceted and complex. Sometimes these are gestures of demonstratively playful flirtation: this happens at funeral repasts and at weddings. Sometimes these are embraces of support and comfort, in an ecstatic moment of sharp pain connected with the death of a loved one, for example. Sometimes, before us are embraces of friendly affection and fondness. Sometimes, by physically making contact with the bodies of others, becoming part of a common, larger body, those embracing show their connection to the group. With body language, people express their relationship to each other much more and with greater complexity than it is customary to do in verbal language; forms of mutual touch are not necessarily defined by erotic attraction, it may be a profound and concentrated experience of group singing or a gesture of friendly closeness. Embraces, which are not only permissible but are extremely important in order to create a sense of togetherness, enable the embracers to make experiences distinguishable, to infect others with these experiences, and to open their experiences to the gaze of others.
Inna Veselova, Svetlana Adonyeva
Translation by Laura Olson Osterman, Jessika Aguilar, Alexandra Aleynik