Check Out 2019’s Hottest Photography Exhibit: Slava Mogutin’s ‘Stock Boyz’

In celebration of World Pride held this past June in New York City, Russian-American artist Slava Mogutin (above) launched STOCK BOYZ, a limited risograph edition produced in collaboration with the Berlin-based PogoBooks and Outer Space Press.

From Mogutin’s artist’s statementSTOCK BOYZ is a series of male pin-ups of anonymous figures in different stages of undress. In the early 2000s they appeared on several obscure mostly Eastern European and now defunct fetish websites. Some appear to be rough trade and/or “gay for pay,” while others come off as hustlers and exhibitionists by chance not choice. I started this series shortly before the devastating market crash of September 2008, using the stock charts graphics as an abstract background. Initially I thought of this series as a commentary on commodification of youth in our consumerist society. However, after the market crash, it gained a whole new more sinister meaning. As the economy was getting worse, the numbers and graphics kept changing dramatically. I continued collecting the charts and making new pin-ups giving them names made of current newspaper headlines: Small Capitalization, Most Active, Industrial Average, Total Volume, Behind and Ahead, Gainers and Losers, New Highs and Lows, etc… While the rigid headlines stripped of their actual meaning sound frivolous and suggestive, the boys’ exposed fragile bodies, taken out of sexual context, slowly dissolve in the ocean of cruel digits. Bit by bit they are swallowed by the Capitalist greed and over-indulgence.

Gaynrd spoke to Mogutin, who produced the hottest photo book of the year.

 

What was the inspiration for ‘Stock Boyz?’
This series documents the market crash of 2008, as well as appropriated images from various porn sites, most of which are now defunct. The originals were printed on the financial charts from business dailies while Tumblr was the primary source for the pinup pictures of boys in various stages of undress. I created this series 10 years ago and when about a year ago Tumblr wiped out their entire adult content, I realized that Stock Boyz also served as a document of the early age of the virtual erotica, before it became so heavily censored. So I decided to recreate this series as a limited risograph edition, hand-printed and produced in Berlin in collaboration with PoGo Books and Outer Space Press.
What was its reception?
Stock Boyz was initially presented at the LA Art Book Fair in April, then at several book fairs in Germany. In June I did the pop-up window installation at Printed Matter in NY during World Pride. And we recently presented Stock Boyz at the NY Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1. It was an experiment, because it’s not really a book, it’s a conceptual object, a show in the box with 50 prints each individually signed. We sold big part of the edition before it even came out and it’s been popular with collectors and institutions alike, so the reception exceeded all our expectations.
How did you feel about the Stonewall 50 celebrations?
It’s important to honor our history and remember our rebellious queer roots. Stonewall was a riot against police brutality and social oppression, and 50 year later in many parts of the country things haven’t improved much for the queer community. Not to mention places like my native Russia and many dark parts of the world–nearly 80 countries where homosexuality is still considered a crime. Unfortunately, most of contemporary Western gay culture has more to do with consumerism than activism or fighting for universal rights and acceptance. That’s why there’s a growing movement under the banner Reclaim Pride for people disenchanted with where we’re going in terms of our culture and politics.
As someone who came here seeking political asylum in the 1990s, do you think that if you had to do so today, you’d have been granted asylum?
I count my blessings for being able to escape, survive and tell my story. My asylum case set the precedent for many other similar cases for queer people from Russia and other former Soviet Republics. I think Trump’s election effected Russian-American relations in a very negative way, just as the situation with the gay rights, but it also galvanized the queer resistance and opposition. It’s easy to trash America for people who don’t know any better, but I’m grateful for becoming a US citizen and finding my new home here.
Are there any queer Russian artists that are being persecuted now that we should know about?

There’s a whole new generation of Russian queer artists emerging despite the hostile homophobic climate. The Calvert Journal recently did a big feature on it, In the face of official censure, Russia’s LGBTQ artists prove that their country has always been queer. In fact, Russia has always been queer. Even at the time when I was prosecuted for my journalism and activism, there were many people whose love and support helped me through it. I have a dream that one day Russia will become a more open and tolerant society, and I’m working towards making this dream a reality.

 

Slava Mogutin is a Russian-American multimedia artist and author exiled from Russia for his outspoken queer writings and activism. A third-generation writer and self-taught journalist and photographer, he became the first Russian to be granted political asylum in the US on the grounds of homophobic persecution. Informed by his bicultural dissident and refugee experience, Mogutin’s work examines the notions of displacement and identity, pride and shame, devotion and disaffection, love and hate. Mogutin is the author of seven books of writings in Russian, as well as three monographs of photography, Lost Boys, NYC Go-Go, and Bros & Brosephines, and two illustrated collections of poetry, Food Chain and Pictures & Words. He’s the winner of the Andrei Bely Prize for poetry and the Tom of Finland Foundation Award for artistic achievement.

PogoBooks is an independent publisher focused on limited edition art books, editions, and multiples. We believe in a future printed on paper, and conceive the printed artwork as a unique art form. PogoBooks is a platform, an archive, and collective for contemporary arts, photography, and nonsense. The Berlin-based publishing house was founded by Claudio Pogo in 2010. STOCK BOYZ was Risograph-printed by Outer Space Press in collaboration with Slava Mogutin.

Check out Mogutins’s site at: slavamogutin.com/

All art courtesy of Slava Mogutin.

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