New York based, Russian-born photographer Slava Mougtin creates something between portraiture and pornography. Overtly sexualised, his work often depict buff boys engaged in acts of arousal and fetish. His installation and photographic work effortlessly obliterates sex/gender stereotypes, to present new, masculinised and hyper-masculinised portrayals of mid-20s gay men. But his boys are more than just a personification of homoerotic hetero male bicuriousness. They are paradoxically challenging the fag persona, the dominant homosexual identity, while subtly (re)presenting aspects of that identity.
Mogutin’s obsession with queer ‘straight’ guys and turning them into sex objects is paramount to his masculine homosexual idea. His main objects of desire are jocks, skaters, thugs and wiggas, His boys are quintessential of this fashion and lifestyle, often skaters, always lean and regularly well built and muscular. And because they are presented as if they are from the ‘wrong end of town’ they are imbued with added hardness and dangerousness, heightened their masculinity. And that’s exactly how Mogutin wants them.
The jock strap—is an regularly recurring item in Mogutin’s work—mimics this paradox. It is both an item used by sportsmen and a gay fetish item. What draws me to his work is his complete disregard for the conventions of sex, sexuality and gender. He diverges from any socially accepted understanding of these and consistently creates new ideas, merging a hyper-masculine gay male identity with aspects of fag norms.
Possibly most important to the success of his new sex/gender identities is the fact that he is a personification of his own ideology. He is lean and muscular with a masculine demeanor. In February last year he did a shoot for Playgirl in which he was dressed in wigga wear and allowed himself to be sexualised in the way that he sexualises those he places before his masculine homo gaze.
Photos (in order of appearance: Anton (Helmet) 2000; New Pants (Terry) 2001; Ben 2002; Joey & Carlos 1999; Ilya (Gucci) 2001; Ilya (Feet) 2001; Robert Urban 2003; Anton (Roof cock2) 2000. All © Slava Mogutin.