New East Digital Archive

In the raw: a photographic ode to female freedom

Anastasiya Lazurenko photographs her friends and muses

Ukrainian photographer Anastasiya Lazurenko explores the nature of femininity, female identity and sexuality by focussing on the close circle of her numerous friends and muses. Her book Pearly Gates (which merges references such as the gates of heaven, LSD and the female anatomy) is a collection of female portraits taken with a Polaroid camera over four years. It’s dedicated to one of Lazurenko’s muses, Valeria Koshkina, who died from anorexia. “When I found out about her death (my love for her is beyond expression), I was overwhelmed with a strong feeling of guilt,” writes Lazurenko in the intro to the book. “I felt guilty for all of us, who worship the media cult of the skinny and support fake destructive stereotypes of beauty. Since then I promised myself not to retouch photos at all and to show wild, unbridled sex, the energy of freedom, intimacy and love.” Pearly Gates is the artist’s raw and broken love song to all the lost girls.