Slava Mogutin: Lost Boys. From Russia With Love

      

On view August 11th - September 30th, 2016.

Artwall in cooperation with Prague Pride is proud to present Slava Mogutin's first solo show in Czech Republic, which offers a truly unique perspective on this year’s Pride theme of LOVE.

Taken from 2000 to 2004, years after Mogutin’s exile from Russia, these candid portraits document the new generation of the country in a grip of unprecedented political and economic corruption and social decay. This internationally acclaimed series became the subject of Mogutin’s first photography monograph and a traveling solo exhibition that originated in New York and later traveled to Krakow, Luxembourg, Madrid, and Berlin.

Being persecuted by the Russian authorities for his unapologetically gay views and work, Mogutin is well-aware of the everyday hardship that gays and lesbians face in his motherland, yet he is far from painting a simple, one-dimensional image of his native country: “It’s such a cliché to portray Russia as a totally grim and sad place, so I was eager to show a different side of my country that is colorful, exciting, sexy and full of raw energy.”

The tongue-in-cheek subtitle of the exhibition, From Russia With Love, borrowed from the classic Cold War James Bond spy thriller, underlines this feeling of excitement and adventure while reminding us of the clandestine existence of many queer people in Russia. This love walks a tightrope and can have grave consequences.

“In the Czech Republic, we might feel sexually liberated especially during the moments like the Prague Pride week, still we should not get too smug regarding our tolerance,” states Zuzana Štefková, one of the curators. While in the Czech context there are no laws preventing “promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships” in the presence of minors (which effectively means a ban on public distribution of non-biased information on homosexuality, bisexuality or transgender issues), cases such as the suicide of a gay teenager two years ago or the recent homophobic statements by some of our MPs and senators show that Czech society as a whole still needs to learn that it is OK to be gay.

Slava Mogutin is a New York-based Russian multimedia artist and author, exiled from Russia for his outspoken queer writings and activism. Informed by his bicultural literary and dissident background, Mogutin's work celebrates diversity and nonconformist thinking through the themes of displacement and identity; transgression and transfiguration of masculinity and gender crossover; urban youth subcultures and adolescent sexuality; the clash of social norms and individual desires; the tension between attachment and disaffection, hate and love. Mogutin is a vocal critic of President Putin and Russia's recent anti-gay policies. See slavamogutin.com

Contacts
Curator: Zuzana Štefková, zuzana@artwallgallery.cz
Media contact: Pavla Kroupová, info@artwallgallery.cz

The present exhibition program is implemented by c2c circle of curators and critics under the patronage of the Prague City Councilor, Jan Wolf.

The project is realized with kind financial support of the Czech Ministry of Culture and the City of Prague.
The project partner is the City of Prague.
The media partners are Aktuálně.cz, Radio 1, Artmap, Kulturissimo.cz and Goout.

 


About the exhibition:

Slava Mogutin’s exhibition Lost Boys: From Russia with Love portrays the new generation of Russia: the artists’ friends and ex-lovers, soldiers and military cadets, street hustlers and athletes... Lost in their thoughts or agitated and alert, in either intimate or street settings, some of them still on the threshold of boyhood, with an aura of innocence and vulnerability, others striking poses of self-confidence, defiantly staring straight into the camera, Mogutin’s lost boys are full of hope and expectations, yet also uncertainty and melancholy—just like the contemporary Russia that the artist had to flee as an openly gay activist and journalist at the age of 21 after attempting to register the first same-sex marriage in the modern Russian history and being accused of “malicious hooliganism, exceptional cynicism, and extreme insolence”— the same charges recently used against the members of the radical feminist punk group Pussy Riot.

The photographs were taken during Mogutin’s trips back to Russia from 2000 to 2004, years after his exile. These candid and iconic portraits are a hybrid of intimate documentation and social anthropology that offers a striking critique of a troubled country in a grip of unprecedented political and economic corruption and social decay. Sometimes they are matter-of-fact, other times purposely cocky or tinged with melancholy, but always exuding a sense of earnest concern for their subject.

Being persecuted by the Russian authorities for his unapologetically gay views and work, Mogutin is well-aware of the everyday hardship that gays and lesbians face in his motherland, yet he is far from painting a simple picture: “It’s such a cliché to portray Russia as a totally grim and sad place, so I was eager to show a different side of my country that is colorful, exciting, sexy and full of raw energy.”

The tongue-in-cheek subtitle, From Russia with Love, references the cult Cold War James Bond spy thriller based on the classic Ian Fleming’s novel, and only further underlines this feeling of excitement and adventure while reminding us of the clandestine existence of many queer people in Russia. This love walks a tightrope and can have grave consequences.

In the Czech Republic, we might feel sexually liberated especially during the moments like the Prague Pride week still we should not get too smug regarding our tolerance. While in the Czech context there are no laws preventing “promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships” in the presence of minors (which effectively means a ban on public distribution of non-biased information on homosexuality, bisexuality or transgender issues), cases such as the suicide of a gay teenager two years ago or the recent homophobic statements by some of our MPs and senators show that Czech society as a whole still needs to learn that it is OK to be gay.