The two artists behind the art collective SUPERM, Brian Kenny and Slava Mogutin, have been collaborating together on visceral multidisciplinary projects for over eight years. The Siberian-born Mogutin was a journalist in Russia until his exile for his queer writings and activism. Kenny was born on a military base in Heidelberg, Germany and grew up experiencing an itinerant lifestyle with his Catholic family.
From videos and installations, to collaborations with multiple artists, the duo has made stark and real works that redefine fetish, sexuality, and personal freedom. Their recent show at Envoy Enterprises, “Beauty/Hell,” was a double-exhibit of a collection of pieces inspired by the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, and the art of Hans Bellmer and Pierre Molinier. “Beauty” was a series of collages, dissected bodies pasted back together, limbs entwined, a focused study of bodies in attention to ourselves. “Hell” was a dark and varied series of works made in collaboration with a myriad of artists, from sculpture to wall hangings to prints to a live tattooing performance session.
NYC-APS: How did you two meet?
Brian Kenny: We met outside of Opaline, a now-defunct club on Avenue C in the East Village, while having a smoke on the sidewalk. I spotted Slava and I followed him in, introduced myself and asked if he wanted to dance. He was a terrible dancer, which was a turn-on for me and soon after we left the club and spent the night together. The following morning Slava invited me to be a part of the shoot he was doing in Brooklyn, which turned out to be our first collaboration – a short video that we premiered during the first Moscow Biennale a few months later.
NYC-APS: You both have very different backgrounds. How did this lead to creative dialogue?
Slava Mogutin: It’s rare when two people can live, work and travel together, and be in love! Marina Abramovi? proclaimed in one of her manifestos that an artist should never be in love with another artist, but her personal example speaks otherwise. In my opinion, her most powerful and sincere performances were created in collaboration with Ulay, an obscure German artist who was her mentor and lover.
Gilbert & George is another inspiring art couple, working and living together for over 45 years now. Brian and I recently spent some time with them in London when I was interviewing and shooting them for Whitewall Magazine. One of the most profound things they told me during the interview was never discuss or criticize their own art and accept everything that comes out of them – every idea or work or statement – without self-censoring or holding anything back.
BK: Slava was my first real introduction into an ongoing creative process. I had always been making art, but as soon as I met Slava he invited me to collaborate and by example showed me how your own day-to-day life contains an endless supply of inspiration for art-making: like the boring still-life flower art someone leaves on the street that can be re-made into a bouquet of skin and desire, or the weekly haircut that can turn into a photo shoot with a fetishistic flair. At this point I believe our creative dialogue is the glue that holds our relationship together. Creating art with each other will always be one of the greatest joys in my life.
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