Shot in late December, the project was conceptualised when Chernova, in exchange for a lookbook shoot, received permission to shoot at an LA mansion for half a day. “It was a very fast day – with around thirty minutes to photograph each person,” with one roll of film per person. “I think that way, I teach myself to not get stuck on the same frame,” the photographer adds.
The naked human body has been an enduring focus on art and photography. It is an object of desire; it allows the study of the structure and movement of the body unobstructed; it is seen as representing innocence and purity as well as sensuality and sexuality; or an attempt to put living energy into a physical form. For Chernova, it was about eliminating “textile destruction.” The visceral portraits capture the raw physicality of the subjects. “I love attention-focused shots. In this example, it's all about eye expression or a pose each person chose,” Chernova says. “No one had clothes to turn to, and sort of had to just be in their own skin. That is what it was all about – how do people choose to be comfortable in their own skin.”
Pre-lockdown, Chernova originally planned to release her photographic project at a pop-up event, but instead, the photographer decided to focus on the ways she could help improve the situation. “Being an immigrant myself, I’m thinking of a bigger picture and ways I can engage in my community, and help in some (even small) ways,” she says. Chernova dived into the ten-year archive of her work and spent a month selling her original polaroids; donating proceeds to the ACLU of SoCal. “I personally stayed away from any FaceTime or Zoom shoots. It is very rare we are given the opportunity to sit back and really get to know ourselves and organise our thoughts. Instead of chasing 24/7 need to make something/keep social media satisfied, I thought to step back and think of the message I want to put into my work.”