YOU ARE SAFE WITH ME
(2017 CALENDAR)
XANDRA POPESCU &
ADRIAN KNUPPERTZ

Self-published
Edition of 25 + 5AP
Handnumbered by the artists

200 lei


"You Are Safe With Me" is the result of a dialogue initiated by the artists with a group of men who work as defense and security agents. In recent years in Romania, the image of the bodyguard has become emblematic for the period of transition from a state-planned economy to rampant capitalism. The expanding gap between rich and poor has led to an unprecedented increase in the business of safety. Some men ended up in the job because their factory closed down or their craft disappeared in the new free market. They were collateral damage of a brutal shock wave of social transformation. Others could be ex-corner boys ironically charged with the task of protecting the nouveau riche from their former comrades or neighbours. Romania’s post-1989 tangle of privatized real estate abounds with formerly public landscapes ‘frozen’ in the grip of speculators, and protected by bodyguards. The clubs are also full of bodyguard look-alikes. One never knows who is a bouncer for whom. Indeed the bodyguard “look” has become a body standard for men in the clubs of Romania or Bulgaria. Coming from a place of hyper-masculinity, the bodyguard bears definite signifiers of metrosexualism: tight shirts on well-formed bodies, intimidating looks and perfectly groomed eyebrows.

Seizing on the affinity between uniforms and a pin-up aesthetic, the artists proposed the following scenario: creating a calendar having security guards as protagonists, which could function both as a corporate gift to be utilized by the company and also as an art object - circulating in two different systems that may otherwise seem completely disconnected.

The producer, Larisa Crunțeanu, convinced the security company to pay the employees for their time during the shoot and in exchange collaborated on creating high quality prints that were offered to the models. The two artists worked with moving and still images, developing shots with each model, taking as a point of reference iconic poses from art history and pop culture. The process, which took almost two years to complete, resulted in a photo series realized by Adrian Knuppertz and a video work created by Xandra Popescu. These two elements function interdependently but show two very different facets of the situation. While the still images are a series of striking glamour poses, the moving image reveals the making-of process: a fragile choreography of self-construction.

Xandra Popescu works as a film-maker, writer and curator. From 2012 to 2016, together with Larisa Crunțeanu, she has led Atelier 35, a project space in Bucharest. She lives and works in Berlin and Bucharest.

Adrian Knuppertz works as an artist and photographer. Besides chronographic photography of people and the environment, he inhabits and snapshots the incomprehensible through the everyday, the artistic practice of observers and cellphone holders. He is interested in authenticity, subjective representation and projection in photography. He currently lives and works in Buenos Aires.