Currently reading : Paintings of Lesya Toumaniantz by her internet fans and personal photoshoots
You may have been made to feel uncomfortable at the beginning of 2013 when Lesya Toumaniantz a young Russian girl brutally had the name of a man that she’d known physically for around 24 hours tattooed in huge black gothic script across her face.
Lesya had met Rouslan on the internet while Rouslan was tattooing from Belgium in his home town and Lesya was living in the small central Russian city Saransk. Upon finally meeting in the physical world after courting on the internet and ‘having a lot in common’ they both decided that Rouslan could tattoo a whole 5 inches of gothic script reaching from cheek to cheek on Lesya’s mostly un-modified body.
Besides from being the bearer of the name on the girls face he also tattooed it himself. Rouslan is not unknown to controversy within the tattoo world, low grade tabloids internationally were shocked by his design of 54 stars on a woman’s face who claimed that ‘she had fell asleep while being tattooed’ and was apparently horrified with the results a few years ago. (this later turned out to be some bizarre hoax, falling asleep while having your face continuously tattooed for a couple of hours seems completely unrealistic but also adds to Rouslan’s strange character).
The reputation of this man could hardly be considered wholesome prior to the flourishing relationship with this young girl especially when seeing them together in photographs. Posing for photographs together Lesya’s milky clear naked skin and ruthlessly masked face against Rouslan’s greenish tattoos and face stretched in more directions than usual created a sinister image of a relationship.
Upon initially seeing this virally spread across the internet last year it left a dark impression and rose many questions. Facial tattooing is obviously becoming increasingly popular and has been filtering into the mainstream for the last few years via the music scene and reality television programs. Nonetheless facial tattooing has been taking the stance of script above the eyebrow, a teardrop below the eye or a figure emerging beside the ear, like a form of decoration rather than something to cover or hide the face. Lesya’s tattoo also isn’t coherent in anyway with any other trends of tattooing, it sticks out painfully in its placement and size.
What Rouslan performed on his new wife instantly smacks you with the impression that he has branded her, created her into a possession that he owns and permanently hiding her beautifully youthful face as something that belongs to him. What kind of man would think or practice that this is a viable or loving thing to do to someone that you care about? No one will ever be able to now look at her without looking at him.
fan art created by Bryant Thebigb Melton
Declarations of love through tattooing usually take the place as something as a shared experience, matching tattoos or sharing one another’s names. Has Rouslan re-approached his declaration of her never ending love? It doesn’t seem like it but his face is already elaborately filled with slightly tasteless mechanically inspired designs.
So what has happened to Lesya in the last year? Trawling through her Facebook it appears that the both of them have been enjoying the internet attention with an intriguing amount of fan art being created of her and surreal photo shoots of her in augmented settings of urban environments for her new fans. There’s even an album named ‘Russian Celebrity’s’ on her Facebook where she’s snapped with various people. Theres something fascinating about anonymous people dedicating time and effort into creating her image after reading about their love story. Do people really admire Lesya and Rouslan? Is her tattoo a desirable design that enhances her style or beauty? Is their romance that enviable that people have rationalised their choice?
The runner of the BME blog who is a friend of Rouslan made a statement about the couple when it first erupted –
I know that there are people who are terrified that Lesya has made a rash decision that she’ll regret horribly, but sometimes the best decisions are the ones you make in an instant with your heart rather than the ones long-debated in your mind. I know many people whose favorite mods are the ones they got “on a whim”, and who are still happily married to the person they fell for the instant they saw ”” “love at first sight” is an old truism ”” and proposed to within the week. I wish them the best of luck and hope that their life plays out as they dream it to be.
In a world where we drive upon extremes in behaviour and aesthetics, the ability to shock becomes ever more difficult but this couple have succeeded in drawing a certain amount of attention towards themselves. But this attention is not fuelled by beauty, innovation, intellect or integrity but a dark undercurrent of possessive and controlling love masqueraded as something honest and ‘of the moment’. Their fifteen minutes of fame has died out, so what else can they do to satisfy this attention? This tattoo will always exist, even with tattoo removal technology it will leave scaring but within the realms of the celebrity culture of digital identities this couple have achieved a new kind of shock which relies on a kind of co-dependency with the internet to vilify their relationship.