Ever since Russia’s so-called ‘gay propaganda law’ was put in place by Putin in 2013, space for LGBTQI+ representation in the country’s cultural mainstream all but disappeared. Being part of Russia’s queer community often means facing harassment, violence, discrimination and erasure. This harrowing fact of Russian life was recently documented in David France's new HBO documentary Welcome To Chechnya, in which a group of activists risk their lives confronting the anti-LGBTQ persecution rife in the repressive republic of Chechnya.
A new exhibition, Russian Queer Revolution, curated by writer and regular SHOWstudio contributor Anastasiia Fedorova, aims to dispel the notion that Russian queer experience consists only of pain. Focusing on themes of joy, pleasure, pride, creativity and talent, Fedorova has created a collective portrait of the queer Russian community leading a cultural rebellion.
The artists, designers, photographers, musicians, activists, writers and educators that make up a burgeoning queer Russian underground will be showcased in an installation at VFD Dalston this coming September. A mixture of self-portraits and collaborative works clamour for attention, defining notions of what it means to be both Russian and queer in 2020.
'For me, as a Russian queer person and an immigrant, this project is significant for many reasons. It is a search for a Russian queer family I never had. It is proof of our defiant existence. It is a hand extended to all the lost and exiled immigrant queers, and a celebration of all the different ways of finding home. It is about remembering how connected the LGBTQI+ community is worldwide, and how diversity and inclusion makes us infinitely stronger. It is about remembering that no one is free and equal until we all are free and equal in every country of the world,' says Fedorova in an impassioned statement.
Russian Queer Revolution aims to connect Russian LGBTQI+ creatives with a global community, advocating powerful bonds and relationships in the face of relentless government censorship. Fedorova has also created a fundraiser for the Russian trans community, which you can donate to here.
Below, Fedorova speaks to SHOWstudio about the exhibition during the installation process.
Russian Queer Revolution runs from 1 September - 25 September 2022.