In his upcoming exhibition, “Asylum,” queer filmmaker/photographer Alexander Kargaltsev presents nude portraits of Russian gay men who fled violence and discrimination in their homeland and sought refuge in the United States.
Curator Ivan Savvine explains:
For us living in New York, the idea that one could be forced to resettle across the globe only because of his or her sexual orientation may seem shocking and incomprehensible, but for many it is the reality that is so often left unnoticed.
Kargaltsev’s portraits project a striking expose of the dire situation of the LGBT community in Russia. They are arresting in their austerity and contain a poignant message of hope for a life free of fear in the New World. The artist succeeds in demonstrating the human side of the problem, in the face of the massive, painful and complex nature of the state-sponsored homophobia. The models, in their nakedness, reveal their courage in shedding many layers of fear, emerging from their harrowing past, bare and vulnerable, yet proud.
Kargaltsev, a graduate of the New York Film Academy, has his own horror stories: At the Moscow Pride rally in 2010, military police attacked him with batons and Tasers and left him lying bleeding in the street. Another time he went to meet an online date and was beset by bashers who had posted a fake profile just to trap him. It’s never been easy being gay in Russia, he says, but the passing of gay-propaganda “bans” like the one in Saint Petersburg are only making it harder.