The Magic Closet and the Dream Machine

Post-Soviet Queerness, Archiving, and the Art of Resistance

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”

 

Project goals

 

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. 

 

Methodology

 

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