Paris, the 1960s. In an apartment building, children switch all the door numbers, sending people looking for one residence to the wrong address.
This is the chaotic plot that Ukrainian erotic photographer Ruslan Lobanov, 38, dreamed up as the basis for an artistic book with erotic photographs.
“The Wrong Door” features photographs depicting what happens in each apartment in a building after unexpected guests arrive. Every set of photos is accompanied by a story.
The 176-page book costs $130 and contains both color and black-and-white photos that Lobanov shot over the last three years in France, Italy and Ukraine.
Creating a photography book with such a plot was quite a challenge for Lobanov. However, the result is evidence of the artist’s perfectionist approach.
The cover of the book features a bare-breasted housemaid standing in the doorway of a building on a street in France.
“The woman could have been shot dressed, and it would basically be almost the same story. Nakedness adds spice,” Lobanov told the Kyiv Post. “It’s always good to play with spices.”
Unlike his previous books, in which the starting point for Lobanov was a character, with “The Wrong Door” he has gone in another direction, building the new book on a plot that he created in a single night.
“The Wrong Door” features the stories of 25 apartments where everything gets mixed up: an actress heading to a film set instead arrives at the house of a professor who is waiting on some students to take an exam; some old men playing chess are waiting on their friend to join them but instead find an elite prostitute at their door.
Lobanov says that despite the mishaps, all of the stories turn out well in the end.
“The thing is that you never know whether all of the doors were actually wrongly numbered.”
At times, Lobanov felt like a hostage of his own project. While shooting for the book over three years, it was hard at times to maintain inspiration, he says.
Because all of the stories were interconnected, Lobanov couldn’t miss out any of the apartments. The puzzle would have crumbled, he says.
“Such limitations slightly annoy an artist.”
Still, while it wasn’t easy to complete, the photographer says he is happy with “The Wrong Door,” as it was an opportunity to have a new and useful experience.
Priest on set
After Lobanov made up his story, he drew some sketches and started picking locations.
By that time, he had been shooting for over 12 years around the world and had an idea of what places would suit his new project.
The photoshoots were held in Paris and Angers in France, in Venice, Italy, and in Kyiv and Lviv in Ukraine.
For one of the stories shot in Paris, Lobanov even had to turn into a model and play one of the characters. He says that this happens once in a while, when for some reason he cannot use a model.
This time it was for the story of a dying man who is waiting for a priest. Instead, his character gets a visit from two female students heading to a professor to take an exam. Because the students didn’t attend lectures, they had no idea it wasn’t their professor and were ready to do anything to pass. The story takes an unexpected turn: in the photo, one of the students is taking off her clothes, the other one is already sitting on professor’s lap, half-naked.
Lobanov says that the man who was supposed to play the dying character happened to be bursting with good health, while he himself, after a busy week of shooting and early mornings, was in the perfect kind of condition to play the role.
Another adventure happened to Lobanov’s team while shooting the story about the priest who was supposed to visit the dying man. He arrives at an apartment where three women are having a hen party and are waiting for a stripper to come to entertain them.
The photoshoots were held in Venice, a city in deeply religious and Catholic Italy.
Lobanov says that he had to walk the length and breadth of Venice to find a priest’s outfit for rent.
Luckily, he was helped out by his Italian friend Alfredo, a jeweler who played the priest for the book and whose brother happens to be a real priest.
Lobanov says that apart from that story, he wanted to shoot one of the options for the cover photograph outside. Because of Italians’ morals, it had seemed impossible, but everything worked out due to Alfredo’s brother being present.
“We had a priest on the set.”
Lobanov says that it’s important for him not only what the product is like, but also how he feels during the process of making it. Photography for him is both work and the love of his life.
That is why the photographer shoots the same stories as many times as it takes to achieve the perfect result.
He uses a film camera and usually takes from 10 to 15 shots, which is a whole reel of film, for a single picture. While working on “The Wrong Door” Lobanov shot half of the stories twice, and some of them three times.
Apart from that, the photographer pays a great deal of attention to detail, and uses authentic props to maintain realism.
“If you look at printed photos hanging on walls in a gallery, you will notice a jewelry box in the background, what a dress (in a picture) is made of, what kind of buttons (it has).”
“Saturating a photograph with details gives viewers an opportunity to read a picture for a second and a third time. This is something you will return to. This is something that cannot be read at once.”
The photographer is already planning his next book, “Château,” which is to be released next year. Containing mostly black-and-white photos shot over a period of nine years, the book is centered on Brittany, a region in the northwest of France. “Château” will feature how the region and the book’s characters change over time.
Working with erotic photography for over 12 years, Lobanov believes that eroticism is the basis of everything. He says that it is no coincidence that the naked body and Eros, the god of desire, were important in the art and culture of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
However, as with everything, moderation is required, he says.
“The main thing here is to know the limits, because the Romans got a bit carried away.”
Get Ruslan Lobanov’s book “The Wrong Door” at One Love Coffee cafe (100 Velyka Vasylkivska St.), The Bookstore (Metrograd underground shopping mall near Besarabska Square), or purchase online through the website www.ruslanlobanov.com
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter