just opened

Brain Slave

12 Jul 2024 – 24 Aug 2024

Regular hours

10:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00

Free admission

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Berlin, Germany

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SETAREH is pleased to present "Brain Slave" by SUPERM, the dynamic duo of New York-based artists Brian Kenny and Slava Mogutin.

Inspired by Nietzsche’s concept of the Übermensch and infused with their shared queer experiences, SUPERM has emerged as a powerful insurgent force at the intersection of art, politics and pop culture, pushing the boundaries of identity, sexuality, and morality. This exhibition will feature works spanning two decades of their collaboration, including photography, collage, painting, sculpture, and video. Their work has been showcased in galleries and museums worldwide, including New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Madrid, Ottawa, Oslo, Bergen, and Moscow. Their last Berlin show was "New York Underground" in collaboration with Rainer Fetting (2005).

"Brain Slave" explores various facets of their oeuvre, both individual and collaborative, capturing the essence of their long-term artistic conversation. Central to their work is the theme of found communality, both actual and imagined. For instance, Mogutin's renowned photographic series "Suddenly Last Summer" (2010), which references Tennessee Williams' famed play about homosexuality, lobotomy and cannibalism, captures Kenny and their friends in the wild through saturated double exposures. This series recalls the innovative spirit of Russian avant-garde artists like Alexander Rodchenko and El Lissitzky, who also sought new utopian and futuristic ways of seeing and capturing the world. Another significant piece is their collaborative portfolio "Entropy Parade" (2011), which serves as a stage for their community of queer protagonists in fantastical and provocative tableaus. Boys dressed in playful costumes are further embellished with collage, graffitied poetry, and comic characters, creating a world where fantasy and reality intertwine. 

Recent works by SUPERM continue this exploration of community and expression, particularly in the face of the current politicization and weaponization of gender and sexual identities. Sports motifs often appear in their work, symbolizing another collective space ripe for creative invention. Kenny’s fabric banners, made from recycled sports jerseys, feature bold queer statements and graphic compositions. These updates on classic Pop imagery use stark color contrasts and numerical signs, transforming popular culture into a platform for graphic expression. Sporty themes also permeate their videos, drawings, photo transfers, and fabric banners, with helmets and jockstraps signifying a playful competition. Displayed alongside sketchbooks and ephemera, this survey of their work incorporates a sense of play and community, envisioning worlds of freedom and solidarity against social stigmatization. The exhibition will also debut new work created specifically for this presentation.

Slava Mogutin, born in Siberia, is a Russian-American multimedia artist, author, and activist exiled from Russia for his outspoken queer writing and activism. A third-generation writer and self-taught photographer, Mogutin was the first Russian granted political asylum in the US on the grounds of homophobic persecution. Mogutin’s work explores displacement, identity, pride, shame, devotion, disaffection, love, and hate. He has authored seven books in Russian, two illustrated poetry collections in English, and five photography monographs published in the US, UK and Germany. Mogutin has been honored with the Andrei Bely Prize for poetry and the Tom of Finland Foundation Award for artistic achievement. 

Brian Kenny, born on the US military base in Heidelberg, Germany, is an American multidisciplinary artist and muralist. In 2004, Brian began his ongoing collaboration with Slava Mogutin as SUPERM. Using a variety of mediums, Brian’s artwork is vividly expressionistic and often autobiographical, reflecting personal themes such as queer identity, shifting societal perceptions of gender, sexuality, politics, urban living, and creative experimentation. Brian’s work in fashion includes collaborations with Christian Lacroix, J. Crew, Onitsuka Tiger and Walter Van Beirendonck.

Exhibiting artistsToggle

Slava Mogutin

Brian Kenny


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