Book Review: Bros & Brosephines
By Emily Davis
Often misinterpreted as strictly documentary photography, Slava Mogutin’s conceptual work reeks authenticity with an editorial flare. Comprised of seventeen chronological chapters with titles ranging from “Sister Act”, “ Bro Blowin’ Shotties”, to “Red Beaver Mama”, Mogutin’s latest photography book, Bros & Brosephines explores the heteronormative constructs of masculinity.
During the shoots, Mogutin encouraged his subjects to engage in gender-play. From the understanding that gender is a performance, the photographer and subject had a mirroring desire to push the boundaries of performance and extend gender roles to the limits. In the chapter, “Jockstrap Dogs”, men posed with their legs spread, sporting jockstraps on their heads makes a compelling cultural criticism of the hyper-masculine athleticism that goes hand in hand with being a “man” in today's culture.
Placed over an image of a young man’s back side sauntering away on a beach, an original poem by Mogutin is adjacent to a naked soldier looking directly into the lens, and urinating. The photographer’s commentary may come across as aggressively defiant, but it’s arguable that within the heteronormative and whitewashed main stream culture, any honest and confrontational representation of queer sexuality can read that way. That being said, each chapter has its own sense of humor. Slava Mogutin maintains a lightness throughout the book with color, movement, style, fantasy and romance.
Being that Bros & Brosephines includes numerous photography projects Mogutin has been working on over the past fifteen years. The beginning being images taken in Russia before he was exiled for queer activism, and continues in the evolution of his work as it moves into heavily filtered and psychedelic images.
The images emulate rawness, and humanity. Slava Mogutin seeks to confront and magnify the so-called 'weirdness' of human sexuality. Bros & Brosephines serves as an examination, a confrontation and a celebration of the male psyche, the masculine gender, and complex sexualities that intertwine with the two.