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 Slava Mogutin  (1974 - )

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Lived/Active: New York / Russian Federation      Known for: portrait painting, urban portraits of surroundings and people

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Biography from Galleri s.e:
Slava Mogutin (b. April 12, 1974, Kemerovo) is a New York-based Russian artist and author, who works across different media, including photography, video, text, installation, sculpture and painting.

Life and work

Born in Siberia, in the industrial city of Kemerovo, Mogutin moved to Moscow as a teenager.  He soon began working as a journalist for the first independent Russian publishers, newspapers and radio stations.  By the age of 21, he had gained both critical acclaim and official condemnation for his outspoken 'queer' writings and activism.  Accused of “open and deliberate contempt for generally accepted moral norms”; “malicious hooliganism with exceptional cynicism and extreme insolence”; “inflaming social, national, and religious division”; “propaganda of brutal violence, psychic pathology, and sexual perversions”—he became the target of two highly publicized criminal cases, carrying a potential prison sentence of up to seven years.

Forced to leave Russia, Mogutin was granted political asylum in the US with the support of Amnesty International and PEN American Center.  Upon his arrival in New York City, he shifted his focus to visual art and became an active member of the downtown art scene.  Since 1999, his photography has been exhibited and featured in  publications including The New York Times, The Village Voice, i-D, Visionaire, L’Uomo Vogue and BUTT.

Mogutin is the author of two hardcover monographs of photography, Lost Boys and NYC Go-Go, and seven books of writings published in Russian.  He is the winner of the Andrei Belyi Prize for Literature (2000).  His poetry, fiction, essays, and interviews have appeared in numerous publications and anthologies in six languages.  He has translated into Russian Allen Ginsberg's poetry, William S. Burroughs' essays, and Dennis Cooper's fiction.  He appeared as an actor in Bruce LaBruce’s agitprop porn movie Skin Flick (1999) and Laura Colella’s independent feature Stay Until Tomorrow (2004).

In 2004, together with his partner-collaborator Brian Kenny, he co-founded SUPERM, a multimedia art team responsible for site-specific gallery and museum shows in New York, Los Angeles, Moscow, Berlin, London, Oslo, Bergen, Haifa, and León, Spain.

Artist Statement:
"I have been writing poetry, taking pictures and documenting my surroundings since my teenage years.  My photography is inspired by my travels, personal relationships and encounters, as well as by my literary and dissident background. As with my writings, I want my photographs to tell stories.

The themes of my work encompass cultural alienation and political discontent; the clash of social norms and individual desires; transgressive, radical masculinities; urban youth cultures and adolescent sexualities; the tensions between attachment and loneliness, violence and love; and the search for a new sensibility.

I look for a primal beauty and innocence in unconventional and often explicit scenes and situations that might be considered “obscene,” “shocking,” or “perverse”: a guy sniffing another guy’s armpit; German skinheads pissing and spitting on each other; or a boy with a cucumber up his ass.

I’m a voyeur, a retired exhibitionist. I enjoy photographing people in intimate, vulnerable situations.  This way I can much better capture their character, emotion, movement.  The personal connection with my subjects is essential to my work. I would never ask my models to do something that I wouldn’t have done myself.

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve felt limited by any particular genre or medium. I wanted to expand my creative practice first beyond text, then beyond photography and a two-dimensional image.  That’s how I came about the idea of creating SUPERM, a multimedia art collective, which over the past couple of years has become a laboratory of different ideas, projects and practices.  Created in collaboration with my “partner in crime” Brian Kenny and a shifting network of fellow artists, SUPERM installations combine photography, video, sound, text, drawing, graffiti, sculpture, collage and performance.

The ever expanding list of our collaborators include Gio Andrade a.k.a. Black Peter, Dominic Johnson, Bruce LaBruce, Christophe Chemin, Josh Lee, Tom Dura a.k.a. Masterboy Tom, Joakim Andreasson, Marcelo Krasilcic, Billy Miller, Jason Farrer, Christophe Hamaide-Pierson, Desi Santiago, and Dmitryi Rozin."

Slava Mogutin


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