Mischa Badasyan is a 26-year-old gay man who sometimes feels lonely and unfulfilled from the sexual interactions initiated by hookup apps like Grindr and sites like GayRomeo.
Badasyan is also a Russian-born, Berlin-based performance artist who, beginning in September, will have sex with a different man every day for an entire year. The controversial piece, titled "Save the Date," will explore the feeling of emptiness so pervasive in today's hookup culture, especially for gay men.
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For his piece, Badasyan takes inspiration from French philosopher Marc Auge, specifically from his theory of contemporary culture's "non-place."
"Non-places are supermarkets, shopping malls, airports and other largely anonymous spots where people lose a sense of identity and feel like they don’t belong," Badasyan explained to Arts.Mic. "In these places, you don’t have to talk to anyone or feel a sense of belonging. That creates loneliness."
Badasyan plans to use dating apps and websites to meet up with a variety of strangers, all men, in these types of non-places. The performance artist will explore what occurs at the nexus of anonymous sex and anonymous spaces. "Eventually I'll be like a non-place," he explained. The artwork will explore the contemporary phenomenon of being with so many people, physically or sexually, and yet feeling alone.
Although Badasyan accepts the possibility he may not achieve his goal of one sexual partner a day, he is determined to do his best. He's cited Sophie Calle as an influence, who similarly toed the line between documentary and performance with a heavy dose of sexuality.
This project has also been compared to Tehching Hsieh's year-long performances. In 1978 the Taiwanese artist spent a year locked in a wooden cage and in 1980 he punched a time clock every hour on the hour for an entire year.
Badasyan has already signed up for internet sex sites to facilitate the serial performance; he's also been tested for STDs and has found himself a condom sponsor. The final pieces of the puzzle are the men themselves. Badasyan hopes to acquire a small token from each sexual partner, acquiring 365 objects throughout the performance and thus making "all of the non-places into a place."
Although corners of the internet have been critical of Badasyan's artistic experiment thus far, we wonder if this ire will compare to those who actually have sex for the sake of art. "Generally, I’m not going to tell my dates about this project," the artist told Vocativ. "What if I tell you I just had sex with you for an art project? People won’t like that. It’s horrible, actually."
In a somewhat similar scenario, there was the artist who lost his virginity in front of a gallery -- sort of. Let us know your thoughts on the provocative projects in the comments and learn more about Badasyan's previous -- and also quite racy -- work on his website.