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The Magic Closet and the Dream Machine: Post-Soviet Queerness, Archiving, and the Art of Resistance

Project leader at the Academy:
Masha Godovannaya (IKW)

Overall project leader:
Katharina Wiedlack (University of Vienna)

Project team:
Ruth Jenrbekova (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, IKW), Masha Neufeld, Tania Zabolotnaya (University of Vienna)

3 years
extended until 29.02.2024

Funded by:
FWF – Austrian Science Fund | PEEK (AR567)

FWF I PEEK project
led by Masha Godovannaya, Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies
Duration: 1.3.2020 – 29.2.2024

The new interdisciplinary project brings together researchers and artists from Austria, Russia and Kazakhstan. It aims at creating recognition for queer lives and communities in post-Soviet spaces through the experimental artistic research forms called "the Dream Machine" and "the Magic Closet".

The project reacts to the relatively recent rise in homo- and transphobia in post-Soviet countries. The existing research on the matter analyses the oppressive laws, structural and physical violence, damage/pain narratives of non-conforming people but pays little attention to the ways queer lives form communities, resist the pressure and continue life and love queerly despite of everything. Coming from different academic and activist backgrounds as well as artistic practices, the team members work together to bridge this research gap by documenting vitalizing images and narratives of queer people from post-Soviet spaces. Most importantly, the project will support queer post-Soviet individuals and groups to reclaim their agency, speak for themselves and create spaces to imagine different and better futures.

Working with local queer communities and activists in Central Asia, the Baltic region, Eastern Europe, Siberia and the Caucasus, the team will craft artistic artefacts that reflect people’s lived realities and dreams, and at the same time help to actively build communities across borders, local, national, ethnic, class, gender and sexual differences.

Team members are the Gender, Queer and American Studies scholar Katharina Wiedlack (University of Vienna), the visual artist and experimental filmmaker Masha Godovannaya and the performance artist and writer Ruthia Jenrbekova (both from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna), as well as the Gender and Health Studies scholar Masha Neufeld, and the translator and communications manager Tania Zabolotnaya (both from the University of Vienna).