Here’s what you need to know about multimedia artist Slava Mogutin: He was born in Siberia and made his name through candidly documenting the lives of queer men in Russia, which eventually exiled him for his outspoken art and activism. Now New York-based, Mogutin was the very first Russian to be granted asylum in the United States on the basis of homophobic persecution.
The work of Slava Mogutin has been known to comment on blurred gender lines and masculinity, nihilism, religion, queer sexuality and urban youth. There’s a reason he was called “Russia’s greatest art rebel” by Dazed & Confused.
But you should also know that Slava Mogutin and his always-provocative work is the subject of the Tom of Finland Store‘s latest digital exhibition, called XXX Files. Featuring two decades of his photography and video output, you’ll find everything from work commissioned by various magazines over the years to nude portraits of his lovers and collaborators, the latter including Bruce LaBruce, adult film legend François Sagat and RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Katya Zamolodchikova.
The timing of the new online exhibition — Dec. 18, one day after Tumblr famously ‘flipped the switch’ on its decision to outright ban all adult content — is intentional as well. Mogutin considers XXX Files to be his response to the growing censorship of not just social media platforms but all public venues, physical and conceptual. Tumblr, he says, is merely censorship’s latest casualty.
“For me, the personal is political, and the political is personal,” Slava Mogutin says. “At the time when our fundamental constitutional rights are under attack, I believe that queer imagery can serve as the most effective weapon against hypocrisy, bigotry and censorship. When they censor my work either on social media or in real life, my response is always double up on the queer, double up on the fight and what they don’t want to see. I want to shine light on the darkest corners of human nature and sexuality as a way to understand and peacefully coexist with each other, because being different is a blessing, not a curse.”
More than simply a showcase of Mogutin’s work, Slava Mogutin: XXX Files is an opportunity for fans of his work and queer art lovers in general to purchase signed, limited-edition prints through the Tom of Finland Store.