I asked him how that could be considered art.
Mischa Badasyan in a promo shot for Save the Date. Photo copyright Andrea Linss
What is art? If I cover my naked body in Liam Gallagher quotes and sing Blur songs outside the Wag Club, is that art? Because it sounds like it should be, but the lines are so distorted that it’s hard to really say for sure. Take Mischa Badasyan, for example. He’s a Russian-born performance artist who, for his latest piece, has decided to sleep with a different guy every day for 365 days. This, he says, is art.
Admittedly, there’s more to his Save the Date project than thrusting. Mischa is also taking dance lessons so, at the end of the year, he can perform what he calls the "dance of the loneliness.”
I spoke to Mischa to find out what gave him the idea, and how exactly he’s going to find 365 guys to sleep with.
VICE: Hey, Mischa. Tell me about Save the Date.
Mischa Badasyan: Save the Date is going to be my hardest and most sophisticated performance so far. For one year I'm going to be immersed in loneliness, with people and the city. For 365 days I'm going to meet, each day, someone new, and discover the other´s stories. Alongside meeting people I'll work with sound, photo, and video installations, and create different public performances worldwide.
OK. Where did this idea come to you?
I was inspired in Milan in the Center of Contemporary Art. [The French writer, photographer, and artist] Sophie Calle was my muse, and she inspired me for this project.
Right. But what inspired you to have sex with 365 people?
I wanted to make a piece that exaggerated my feelings and my emotional state at the moment. So far I've never been in love. In this performance, I'm going to share and give all my love to people.
So why is this art and not just sleeping with a load of people?
Sex is just a method to express my idea. Apart from this, a lot will happen, both for the public and for the end exhibition. Like, I will take some dance classes for the whole year and I will create a dance piece for the end of the project—dance of the loneliness. It's a processional art that deals with the relational aesthetics—aesthetics existing only in the relationships with someone that I meet.
Does the sexual element of Save the Date excite you?
Of course. I might get totally crazy, or enjoy it so much that I turn into a prostitute. I'm working with a nice project called Pornceptual [NSFW link]. It's a community of people who are creating a new image of sexuality and porn, our body and our sexual behavior. Together we are going to make some performances and video projects.
Cool. So what kind of relationships are you hoping to build with the people you sleep with?
I don’t really know what's going to happen. I had experiences by dating guys that sometimes don’t even show up at the date, or after speaking for a few minutes they reject me. It's also a relationship, and it's still a date for me. But I'm hoping to have very beautiful and crazy meetings—romantic ones, or just crazy sexy ones. Anyway, I'm trying to be very honest to everyone and enjoy each guy I meet.
What's your view on sex in general?
Sex isn't penetration for me. Sex is an emotional state. It is a feeling, and it is contact. I define sex as totally free and very open. One friend of mine just told me recently that he had sex with his eye lashes. It's so beautiful and very romantic. I wish for myself this kind of sexual experience in this project.
Are there any limitations with what you're prepared to do?
I think I'll understand [what they are] during the process. Of course I have my limits. Being open doesn’t mean doing everything.
Finally, how are you going to find all these people to sleep with? It sounds like a pretty intimidating task.
Yes, it's very difficult. I might get into this supermarket attitude that means I won't see any personality behind the person I meet but just [see them as] a sexual object. I'm afraid of it, but it will happen at a certain level. But it's possible to find a lot of guys on the different gay portals and chats. I've had a lot of gay applications that I'm going to use throughout the year.
Cool, good luck with it. Thanks, Mischa.
Some more stories about unique approaches to sex: