Margo Ovcharenko – Country of Women zine

Ovcharenko, Margo
Publisher: Empty Stretch
Binding: Paperback
Measurements: 30.00 x 21.00 cm

Margo works primarily with portrait photography. In her works she discovers and celebrates primacy of sexuality, intimacy, and empowerment through femininity.
In her latest body of work she photographs queer women in the former USSR. This series of black and white pictures is supposed to reflect the sensation of disillusionment for a large group of people of Margo’s generation who believed in a possibility that their nations would embrace queerness as such and the hostility towards it will gradually come to an end. To keep the conversation going, Margo addresses the lack of cultural memory available for queer women in post-soviet world. Having been overshadowed by heterosexual mainstream, queerness – and especially female one – in the former USSR, always remained a current event with no history, with almost no visual legacy. Margo approaches this issue with an attempt to bring what could be this legacy upon modern-day queer portrait. Her main tool is posing, derivative of a soviet-era female body representation, with sport-related imaging being the most direct inspiration. The idea of physical tension under intangible circumstances – as in both competition and oppression – is a backbone for the whole series as well as some of Margo’s earlier works. Her childhood background in gymnastics first led to her project called Furious Like a Child, dealing with an issue of forced exposure of female body in sports. This time she uses a somewhat reversed approach – inherently sexualized subject of queerness is shown through supposedly asexual posing and overall aesthetics reminiscent of Soviet-era propaganda. This way the visual identity of female queerness leans toward powerfulness, yet remains in the realm of attractiveness with the latter being a most potent device for female empowerment in Margo’s work.

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