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Demir Demirov and Elton John in 2013. Read about the struggles of this Russian artist below.
Russian gay artist and activist Demir Demirov is 33, living in Moscow, and HIV-positive. He is also an outcast in Russia and denied medical treatment.
Demirov’s work has strong connections with that of artist Keith Haring, who died of AIDS complications in 1990. They both address the emotional and political turmoil of being HIV-positive in a hostile world as well as the beauty and spirituality of their sexuality.
Russian authorities see his work as “homopropaganda,” and he is not allowed to exhibit in Russia. Dutch websites that post his art are blocked in Russia. Through December 11, Demirov is having his first exhibition at MooiMan male art gallery in the Netherlands (see a great video here.) All the proceeds from this exhibition go to Demir and his friends, because they do not receive government-funded treatment for HIV — Russia does cover HIV costs for most people, but artists like Demir, who are critical of the government, can find themselves denied coverage. Demir’s life became especially desperate after 2013 when he met Elton John in Russia and the media drew attention to his critical art. Since then, he has been homeless with his dog, denied medication and even dental care.
The good news is that Demir was able to attend the opening event at MooiMan Gallery November 26. This exhibition coincides with World AIDS Day December 1.