A friend of mine was riding the NYC subway when she captured this gem:
A little more digging and I found, kirillwashere.com, a website by Kirill Bichutsky, a party photographer who specializes in capturing topless women. He apparently has “approximately six million page views per month [and] is paid five figures for many of his bookings, which include the Sundance Film Festival, the Super Bowl and the Ultra Music Festival.” This is one of the tamest pictures on the website, and indicative of his style of work:
Kirill profits off of perpetuating rape culture (in which sexual assault is normalized, trivialized, and eroticized), as he jokes about drugging his friends. He profits off of exploiting and demeaning women, as he mocks their bodies. And he profits off of putting women in positions of powerlessness and vulnerability.
Is it me, or does Kirill’s work look oddly familiar?
His aesthetic mimics those of Dov Charney (Founder of American Apparel, left image) and Terry Richardson (right image), in that all of them profit from the exploitative nature of their photography. However, there is one difference: Charney and Richardson were both accused of sexual assault, and have both faced the consequences. After claims that Charney forced an employee to perform sexual acts, the American Apparel board ousted him this past week. Further, after numerous women accused Richardson of being a sexual predator and we led a #NotBuyingIt campaign engaging over a million consumers, Richardson is on the blacklist for many models, stores, and magazines who refuse to work with him in the future.
The problem is that it took years to halt their toxic media and only after allegations of abuse. But when their work alone, and now Kirill’s work, perpetuates a culture that normalizes abuse, why are we waiting for someone to come forward and say that they were abused by these men? Why are we waiting when we already know that these images (warning: explicit content) themselves are harmful to women?
Is Kirill the new Charney or the new Richardson? I certainly hope not. But let’s not wait to find out.