In today’s hook-up culture, the unsettling phrase “hit it and quit it” applies to bedrooms, bathroom stalls, and even alleyways witness to one-night stands. A Russian-born, Berlin-based performance artist has decided to capture the feeling of loneliness and emptiness common in this culture, especially for gay men, by having daily casual sex for a year. Twenty-six-year-old Mischa Badasyan, a gay performance artist, who feels solitude from his sexual interactions facilitated by hook-up apps like Grindr, Scruff, or Mister, will sleep with 365 men for his controversial project titled, “Save the Date,” starting this September.
Badasyan will explore 21st-century ideas of sexuality and homosexuality, and how some of these ideas translate to loneliness. While the performance artist will explore the avenues of this hook-up culture, he will also delve into the idea of “non-places,” a concept in the work of Marc Auge, a French philosopher. "He was writing about non-places in the big cities; places like supermarkets, shopping malls, airports, motorways, and he says that people lose their identity. There's no communication. People don't feel a belonging to somewhere and that causes the loneliness of people,” Badasyan told Arts.Mic.
The Save the Date project intends to extrapolate the frigidness that exists in these crowded public places by meeting up with men in places such as parks to see what happens to sexual interaction when it occurs in a non-place. Although Badasyan’s art project is a biographical work, he confesses to having sex in these non-places and immediately feeling remorse afterward. "I would go to [the park] every night and have sex with guys ... until 5 o'clock [or] 6 o'clock in the morning. And I was always … I felt very bad, I was crying all the time. I am always sad after these kind of meetings,” he said.
Since having casual sex with different people is risky, the performance artist makes it a priority to emphasize the importance of safe sex. Badasyan has received the support of a German safe-sex organization by providing supplies of condoms for the project. This is a crucial component of his project, since society puts an emphasis on sexuality but can disregard the physical and emotional toll it has on a person’s health.
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Sex with multiple partners has been linked to poor sexual health and decreased longevity because the more people you have sexual contact with, the greater the overall exposure risks for STDs, HIV/AIDS, and other life-threatening conditions, like prostate cancer, cervical cancer, and oral cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic. In an interview with Vocativ, Badasyan admits his art project will be his “most sophisticated and dangerous work of art,” in regard to his mental health, leaving him a “little bit scared.”
Badasyan’s art is set to capture how he and this generation have become so contingent on “hooking up” that it seems intimate and emotional connections are close to non-existent. Modern ideas about sexuality has made interactions more about sex rather than actual courtship. This leads to the common feeling of loneliness a greater number of people are experiencing on a daily basis.
Unlike his earlier works, inspired by working with an audience, “Save the Date” cuts out the audience from the project, and rather, will use his livers to become second parties to his artwork. The artist plans to meet a lot of people, each with his own story and background. In addition, Badasyan will collect 365 pieces of each guy to help create a collective installation body, and make all of the non-places into an actual place. The audience will be able to see public performances through the use of photo, video, and soundscapes inspired by Badasyan’s upcoming experiences.
"A year is really challenging; one year of your life, that's tough,” he told Arts.Mic.