← Back to Project | Artists

Leila Davidova/brandfuet

Leila Davidova uses the pseudonym of her alter ego brandfuet in her artistic endeavors and on Instagram. She was born and raised in Donetsk, Ukraine (currently occupied by Russia) where she studied philology and foreign languages, later expanding her academic horizons in Tel Aviv with studies in American and English literature.

While living in Tel Aviv, she explored photography, a medium she continues to integrate into her diverse artistic practice alongside video, collages, and occasional physical objects. Leila’s art defies strict categorization, reflecting her playful approach to life and disdain for taking herself or art too seriously. She revels in absurdity, using satire to critique patriarchal norms and societal constraints.

In 2016, Leila relocated to Kyiv, Ukraine, where she currently resides. Here, she balances her role as a producer for charity and art projects with her personal creative pursuits. Notably, Leila ventured into the world of NFTs in 2020, participating in exhibitions in Paris where her works found collectors.

Through her art, Leila invites viewers to unwind, engage with the absurdities of our world, and reconsider conventional norms. Her work is a testament to creativity as both a personal expression and a tool for societal reflection.

About the Project

by Leila Davidova/brandfuet

My project explores themes of masculinity through the lens of a post-war society. Through a series of photo portraits, I juxtapose traditional notions of masculinity with feminine elements. By adorning men with dresses and long pink nails, I challenge and mock the rigidity of gender roles entrenched in patriarchal societies. It was fascinating to see the reactions of men when adding the ‘feminine objects.’ They became visibly uncomfortable when adding even a small ‘feminine’ detail. This exploration prompts questions about the definition of masculinity in a post-war environment: Must one endure frontline combat to earn the label of a “real man”? Why is masculinity so fragile that it can be challenged by pink nails or a dress? (For the record –  I couldn’t find a single man who would agree to be photographed in thongs; the photo would simply show them from behind, without the face).

In addition to the photographic series, I have created an art object using a genuine military jacket from the Bosnian war era. By embellishing it with red bows, pink candles, and wax, I transform this symbol of militaristic masculinity into an object of whimsy and contemplation. This act of “yassifying” serves to disrupt the seriousness associated with traditional symbols of male identity, suggesting a hopeful future where such militaristic garb is obsolete except as an artifact of history.