A Russian Valentine

Damian Siqueiros's "To Russia with Love" crowd-funding project portrays iconic queer figures from Russia's history, tracing a line from 19th century to the present.

BY Advocate.com Editors

February 13 2014 7:00 AM ET


Sergei Diaghilev and Vaslav Nijinsky
Les Ballets Russes dance company of Paris was unparalleled in its capacity to host so many of the outstanding talented artists that defined the 20th century. The company founded by the visionary Sergei Diaghilev in 1909 hosted artists like Picasso, Matisse, Stravinsky, Fokine, and Coco Chanel.

For dancer Nijinsky it was a turning point to meet Diaghilev, as they became lovers and he became the male star of Les Ballets Russes. With his exceptional talent and the help of his lover he became the most influential ballet dancer of the first half of the 20th century. The love affair was ended by Nijinsky's attempt to lead a traditional life and marry a woman. Though this created a major rift between the two men, Diaghilev never ceased to help Nijinsky on his life and career.

The scene depicted in "To Russia with Love" imagines them as they speak about one of Nijinsky's most famous roles, in L'apr├Ęs-midi d'un Faune. In the back, on the chest we see Nijinsky's day-to-day clothes as a reminder that this is only a private performance for the man he loves.

The images represent the passionate, sexual, and loving nature of their relationship. It was important to highlight that both Diaghilev and Nijinsky were involved in the performing arts by showing the histrionic and erotic qualities in their personalities.

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