HÄN Is The Digital Archive Bridging The Gaps In Queer History

by SHOWstudio on 5 July 2022

Ahead of its launch on 8 July, we spoke to HÄN’s founders about the importance of highlighting gender-nonconforming creatives.

Ahead of its launch on 8 July, we spoke to HÄN’s founders about the importance of highlighting gender-nonconforming creatives.

When it comes to LGBTQI+ representation, the capital G tends to take centre stage. Looking to rectify this problem is HÄN, the digital archive dedicated to lesbian, trans, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming communities and their contribution to queer history. The project is the brainchild of writer and curator Anastasiia Federova along with fashion designer and creative director Ella Boucht, and artist Anya Gorkova, who sought to level the playing field by amplifying the muffled voices in an already marginalised community. With support from Arts Council England, this project spans a digital archive, publishing, art and community events that the trio hopes will breathe new life into queer history while fostering connections across generations.

HÄN founders Anastasiia Federova, Ella Boucht and Anya Gorkova

Building a resource like a digital archive came down to the importance of having readily accessible information and documentation of culture and history regarding lesbian, trans, non-binary, and genderqueer communities. 'I think it's because now we are more aware that history and cultural narratives are often shaped by the more privileged, by the ones in power,' says co-founder Anastasiia Fedorova on why a queer archive is more relevant than ever. ‘I think the younger generation of LGBTQI+ people understands that, which makes them more interested in their own history.’ More than just a resource for information, Fedorova hopes the archive will combat erasure through education while celebrating queer art and joy.

This sentiment is shared by artist and co-founder Anya Gorkova whose heavily-researched approach extends itself into their photography. With work that highlights queerness, gender, and mental health, Gorkova knows just how important having readily available resources for research is. ‘There is so much you can’t find on lesbian/trans/non-binary history online, you really dig into physical archives and our platform will make this process easier.’ For them, the goal of HÄN is to utilise imagery and art as a way to instigate 'a wider conversation on gender and identity.'

Drag King Prinx Silver as featured in the first edition of HÄN

While a digital resource is at the heart of HÄN’s plans, Ella Boucht hopes it's just a starting point for greater community building. ‘The main thing at the moment is the lack of community and real connection’, Boucht explains as a growing problem within the queer community. For them, the importance of having an online presence ‘creates isolation and segregation’, rather than fostering meaningful links. ‘I hope HÄN will create new connections, even if they are small’.

Creating connections is exactly what the trio have planned with the HÄN launch party this week that promises to be a safe space while celebrating and showcasing queer talent. Coinciding with the live digital archive will be a limited edition publication, along with talks, readings and performances dedicated to the trailblazers who paved the way for LGBTQI+ equality.

If you find yourself in London on 8 July, head to Reference Point at 180 Strand for an evening celebrating queer history.




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