“The Magic Closet and the Dream Machine”: Post-Soviet Queer Knowledge Production in Times of increased Trans- and Homophobia

Maria Katharina Wiedlack, Masha Godovannaya, Ruthie Jenrbekova, Iain Zabolotny

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed


We present our art-based research methodology called “The Dream Machine” that aims at analyzing queer lives in different post-Soviet locations by offering safer ways of creating evidence of queer forms of existence. We argue that a new research methodology that draws on art practices rather than on more conventional methods of academic research became crucial due to the increase in homo- and transphobic violence in post-Soviet regions, and the surge in precariousness that LGBTIQAP+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Asexual, Pansexual, and other) visibility creates. Building on the decolonial theorist Éduard Glissant’s concept of opacity, our project aims at recognizing queer lives across the post-Soviet spaces without reproducing the epistemic violence of the Western academic discourses on queerness. Drawing from art-based research methodologies and refusing research that demands pain narratives, we create, in conjunction with local queer communities, spaces of resistance, where queer lives can enjoy (relative) safety, build connections to each other and imagine better futures together. Moreover, we reappropriate the concept of the gay closet as a positively connoted magic closet – an open-access digital archive of traces, that recognizes the queer lives in post-Soviet spaces but does not endanger them.
Original languageEnglish
JournalConnections: a Journal for Historians and Area Specialists
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2023

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 604019 Art history
  • 605004 Cultural studies


  • Women's, men's and gender History
  • Conceptions of identity
  • Cultural history
  • Art History
  • Body narratives
  • Oral History
  • Social history / Social sciences
  • History of knowledge

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