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


A new publication on our methodology

Katharina Wiedlack, Masha Godovannaya, Ruthia Jenrbekova and Iain Zabolotny (2023) “The Magic Closet and the Dream Machine”: Post-Soviet Queer Knowledge Production in Times of increased Trans- and Homophobia. In: Connections. A Journal for Historians and Area Specialists. 27.01.2023 <>.


Close[t] Demonstrations: an exhibition on the multitudes of queer in_visibility

 Fall 2023, Vienna, Austria

Together with the research platform "GAIN - Gender: Ambivalent In_Visibilities" and Anna T., an artist, educator and curator we are organizing an interdisciplinary exhibition for artists who imagine new visual politics of queer representation and explore the connection between desires, ways of living and societal change in visible and/or invisible ways. More information to be found on the exhibition webpage.


We stand in solidarity with Ukraine

The Magic Closet and the Dream Machine Team stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and strongly against the Russian invasion, which we consider a clear violation of international law. In the last days and weeks Russia committed numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity on Ukrainian territory, and this has to stop.

We also stand in solidarity with people in Belarus and Russia who protest against their governments’ actions in spite of the repressions they experience for voicing their opinion. We are united against those who willingly close their eyes to the realities of the lived experience of those suffering and dying in Ukraine, as well as to the lived experience of repression within Russia and Belarus.


Project goals

We are a team of researchers and artists from Austria, Russia and Kazakhstan. Our new interdisciplinary project 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 is a reaction 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, we 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.

Over the course of three years we will work with local queer communities and activists in Central Asia, the Baltic region, Eastern Europe, Siberia and the Caucasus. Together we 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. 




The art-based research process called “Dream Machine” consists of the collective creation of a moving light device that will help the participants to focus on their personal experiences and ideas, while at the same time immersing them in a shared activity that facilitates queer bonds. This is followed by workshops, where all participants can translate their reflections on everyday life, as well as the new experiences of queer belonging into writing, filming and other artistic forms. The results of this process are later deposited in a queer multilingual online archive and presented at the exhibition called “the Magic Closet.” The Magic Closet will give important insights about queer lives in post-Soviet spaces without endangering their existence and avoiding the reproduction of pain narratives; it will let queer people share their experiences, feelings and dreams while staying anonymous and safe.


More information:

The Magic Closet archive webpage

The Magic Closet YouTube channel