Darya Apakhonchich: Relax for Men

Darya Apakhonchich (born 1985) is a St. Petersburg artist and teacher whose series of works, Relax for Men (2016, ongoing), shows how sex work, which is mostly based on exploitation and corruption, is advertised in public spaces in her hometown of St. Petersburg. The photographs are the artist’s statement, constituting activism in a public space.The advertisements with the text “отдых”, which freely translate as “relax” or “relax for men”, are painted on the street, accompanied by telephone numbers. These euphemisms alongside women’s first names are used to advertise prostitution in Russia, which, despite being illegal, is a major and visible problem in the country. Sex workers are one of the most socially marginalised population groups, whose practitioners are treated arbitrarily and threatened by physical violence.

According to Apakhonchich, there are large numbers of brothels in her hometown of St. Petersburg and the advertisements have spread everywhere. Advertising prostitution is illegal, but according to the artist, cities are in no hurry to clear the advertisements, because the financial interests of those in power are often linked to human trafficking.


PVF 2019
The Finnish Museum of Photography