by Tutu Akinlabi
A gay Russian artist who was obviously miffed at the racist photo taken by Dasha Zhukova, girlfriend of Chelsea Football club owner, Roman Abramovich, has responded to the photo in a rather unconventional way.
Zhukova, who is the editor-in-chief of Garage magazine, was pictured sitting on a “black woman” chair which featured a dark skinned woman with a belt around her middle.
The artist, Alexander Kargaltsev, decided to respond to the photo by enacting a similar scene in which he sits on an actual white man after finding Miss Zhukova’s apology insufficient.
Huffington Post reports:
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The photo, which offended many, began circulating on Monday, Jan. 20, which was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Zhukova eventually apologized and called the decision to appear with such a racially insensitive piece of art “regrettable.” She also reasoned that designer Bjarne Melgaard’s actual intent was a “commentary on gender and racial politics.”
But, some did not find the apology sufficient.
Alexander Kargaltsev, a gay New York City-based photographer and gay activist, decided to stage his own response to the “outrageous and tasteless” portrait with an image of a naked black man seated on a naked white man, whose legs are folded up to create a “chair.”
“I was forced to leave Russia because of the discrimination I experienced as a gay,” Kargaltsev told The Huffington Post in an emailed statement Friday. “I’m disappointed that the tradition of xenophobia is so strong in my home country that such an image of Ms. Zhukova can appear as if it is normal and unremarkable. Russian people do not seem to realize when people offend the principle of color, nationality, sexual orientation and so on.”
Kargaltsev explained the idea behind his photo to Out There Magazine, saying:
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. My own composition reverses the visual injustice and offense perpetrated by that editorial and in a way restores the equality of genders, races, and sexual orientations. Sadly, I understand very well that my work will be seen by most Russians as provocative and inappropriate, while that repulsive image (published on Martin Luther King’s Day of all days in a year) will hardly make anyone over there shake their head.