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An artist, writer, photographer, actor, and film director, Kargaltsev immigrated to the United States in 2010 and received political asylum because of the Russian government’s persecution of gays and lesbians. In recent years Kargaltsev has used his art to serve as a sharp stick in the eye to Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay gaze. His book Asylum documents the rebirth of young Russians who have found political refuge in the US because of persecution in their own county. During the Sochi Olympics, Kargaltsev earned worldwide recognition when he responded to a controversial photo of Moscow gallerist Dasha Zhukova, in which she sits on a chair composed of a semi-nude black woman with her legs up in the air. In a bid to reverse the “visual injustice and offence” of the Zhukova photo, Kargaltsev reshot the image with a naked black man sitting on a naked white man on his back with his legs aloft. In an interview with Out There Magazine, Kargaltsev said he found Zhukova’s image “appalling and unacceptable. I was forced to flee my native Russia because of ubiquitous homophobia and xenophobia and it deeply saddens me to see that racism is now being glamorized and thus made not only acceptable but trendy by the likes of Ms. Zhukova.”

 

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