Future Pilots, Former Lovers

My contribution to this viral challenge was decades in the making 🙂 Folks are re-creating all kinds of art works while in isolation due to coronavirus social distancing measures around the world: #gettymuseumchallenge, #tussenkunstenquarantaine, #covidclassics, and #изоизоляция. Here is one of my favorite paintings & its reincarnation.


The Crimean Peninsula: Future Pilots, 1938

I knew in my bones that pull of the horizon. I could manage anything here & now as long as it kept its promise of otherness elsewhere. This Soviet preteen fell in love with a painting on a museum postcard. Artist Aleksandr Deyneka infused one sun-bleached seaside moment with all the Red pathos of worker-peasant dreams. In 1938, the horizon belonged to white boys with blond hair. “The content of the work makes it not so much a genre scene as a metaphor of a great future towards which the characters turn their focus and in which the viewer too involuntarily wants to believe,” states Tretyakov Gallery. I also involuntarily believed in homoeroticism of this image. I had never been naked with other boys but I already knew that I wanted to. Over the years, my “reading” of this work grew in depth and intensity which is true of any worthwhile relationship. In 1941, the Crimean port of Sevastopol (site of this scene) turned into one of the bloodiest World War II battlegrounds. Its siege cost over 300,000 lives. What happened to my future pilots?! The world can be far more complex than any intention to “manifest your dreams”. Yet, Deyneka’s vision is not Utopian; it’s poignant – my favorite flavor. 


A Greek Island: Former Lovers, 2016

I first declined that invitation faster than you can say f*ck, and that’s one syllable. An all-male nudist camping retreat on a remote Greek island?! I couldn’t see myself camping anywhere. Let alone in a nudist colony. Even (or especially) on a remote island. This idea had so many red flags, I was getting USSR flashbacks. Which is probably why I ultimately agreed to go. It was beyond any horizon the Soviet preteen me could imagine. My peak anxiety burned itself out within hours in the hot breeze. The tents, the tits, the hikes, the swims, retsina wine at sunsets, stories, stories, stories. I was overwhelmed with the easy naturalness of it all. One sun-bleached afternoon I looked up from a book… My future pilots, alive and well. I would have been happy to just witness the moment. I was lucky to capture it, too. One of the boys in this photograph has since passed away, one has become a mentor of sorts, one has retreated back to the world wide web of strangers from which we’d all come there. Anything shared remains such. Despite our divergent life paths and battles, the time spent among this band of brothers was among my utmost happiest.

The Postcard: 1973 – Present

This postcard was “printed in the USSR” in 1973. It’s been my bookmark since nineteen-eighty-something. I had it laminated a few years back to prevent further the wear ‘n tear. I see it every day whenever I get a moment to read, to re-align my spirit with a horizon. 

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