"This is the reverse, the invisible side of the club, the atmosphere, a part of which I became. At this behind the scenes there is more burlesque than on the stage, the concentration of sexual fluids is more powerful than oxygen. There’s no falsehood–it’s not a scene, it’s their everyday life, our life, or rather mine." (publisher's note)
"In 'Behind the Scenes', Sergey MELNITCHENKO (*1991, Ukraine) gives us a glimpse at the off-stage doings of erotic dancers in a nameless club in China.
MELNITCHENKO, who came to China to work as a dancer, gives us an unusually up-close vision of the club where he works. While subjects prepare to show themselves - to transform into the erotic ideal the public expects to see - MELNITCHENKO shows us the reality that makes this transformation possible.
Contrary to the masked illusion created by the subjects’ stage performance, their life away from the stage is not a scene; the girls are taking selfies, some lie around exhausted, others stare bored into nothingness, put on their make-up, await their next performance.
MELNITCHENKO explains: 'There's no falsehood – it’s not a scene, it’s their everyday life, our life, or rather mine.' Exactly because their lives are brought into focus by one of their own, their sexual appearance gains depth it lacks on stage; the parody of their performance gains even more strength than the image conveyed to the public." (text©: GUP Magazine, source: http://www.gupmagazine.com/portfolios/sergey-melnitchenko/behind-the-scenes)
"Behind the closed doors of a Chinese night club, Sergey MELNITCHENKO explores hands on the secret underground world through his lens. Thrown into the entertainment industry as a danser himself, this gave him the opportunity to put his usual conceptual photography to one side and capture raw reality through photojournalism.
Sergey MELNITCHENKO, from Ukraine went to Hong Kong in 2015 to work in a Chinese club as a dancer for four months. Soon his everyday life was merged with his passion for photography and that was when his series ‘Behind the scenes’ began.
This collection of photographes would win him the title of the ‘Winner award newcomer’ in The Leica Oskar Barnack.
In China, where sexual entertainment venues are often hidden from the spotlight, burlesque has become a substitute. While strip-clubs and prostitution are strictly illegal, Sergey found himself in a working environment where the atmosphere was fueled by a hormonal tension. Although on stage it was reserved and supervised, behind the curtains a whole different world was exposed.
Sergey’s photos channel the rollercoaster of emotions that the workers endured. What makes this photographers work stand out is his understanding of this environment and his involvement. (...)
Unlike other series of the Chinese entertainment industry, ‘my works show the everyday life of me and my colleagues’. The images seep raw emotions. Blood, sweat and tears were a natural occurrence in such surroundings. For example, the photo of a woman crying, looking into her friend’s eyes, provoke many feelings for the spectator, but for Sergey ‘it’s not shocking for me, just real’. Although the club had a gritty environment, there is nonetheless a feeling of family, friendship and fun. Sergey, who gives an account for his time there, doesn’t hide the farcical atmosphere that dominates here, mirrored in the series photos of the extravagant burlesque club, ‘there was a great atmosphere, each day was different to the next‘.
Having worked on a number of projects, the series, ‘Behind the Scenes’, was the first attempt at ‘photojournalism’ and it was a success gaining a large amount of coverage. It’s sharp, raw tone on a subject matter that is relevant more than ever in today’s society, Sergey MELNITCHENKO gives a crisp understanding through his explicit series ‘Behind the Scenes’." (text©: fisheye magazine, source: https://www.fisheyemagazine.fr/en/images/four-months-of-sequins-alcohol-and-tears/)
About the photographer, Sergey MELNITCHENKO (*1991, in Mykolaiv, Ukraine):
MELNITCHENKO has been taking photographs for around eight years. He is a member of Ukrainian Photographic Alternative, a collective promoting contemporary photography in Ukraine.
He self-published his ‘Loneliness Online’ series in 2013. His work has been shown in various international solo and group exhibitions, including the Landskrona Fotofestival (2015), the Off_Festival Bratislava (2014), and in art book presentations within the framework of the artist residency The Muzychi Expanded History Project, Kiev, Ukraine.
MELNITCHENKO has been living and working in China for the last two years.
"In 'Behind the Scenes' gibt der ukrainische Fotograf und aktuelle Gewinner des LEICA-Newcomer-Award, Sergey MELNITCHENKO (*1991, Ukraine), einen Einblick in die Erotik-Tanz-Szene Chinas, beispielhaft an einem x-beliebigen Club.
MELNITCHENKO, der nach China kam, um als Tänzer zu arbeiten, gibt uns eine ungewöhnlich genaue Vorstellung des Clubs, in dem er arbeitet. Während sich die Akteure darauf vorbereiten, sich zu zeigen - um sich in das erotische Ideal zu verwandeln, das die Öffentlichkeit zu sehen erwartet - zeigt uns MELNITCHENKO die Realität, die diese Transformation möglich macht.
Im Gegensatz zur maskierten Illusion, die durch ihre Bühnenperformance entsteht, ist das Leben der Tänzerinnen hinter der Bühne keine Show; die Mädchen nehmen Selfies auf, manche liegen erschöpft herum, andere starren gelangweilt in das Nichts, schminken sich und warten auf ihre nächste Vorstellung.
MELNITCHENKO erklärt: 'Es gibt keine Falschheit - es ist keine SHow, sondern es ist ihr Alltag, unser Leben oder eher meins.'
Gerade weil ihr Leben von einem eigenen in den Fokus gerückt wird, gewinnt ihre sexuelle Erscheinung Tiefe, die ihr auf der Bühne fehlt; die Parodie ihrer Leistung gewinnt noch mehr Stärke als das Bild, das der Öffentlichkeit vermittelt wird." (GUP Magazine, Quelle: http://www.gupmagazine.com/portfolios/sergey-melnitchenko/behind-the-scenes)