Spring arrived in scorching-hot style this weekend and I’ve been doing everything possible to get out of the house and enjoy the soul-lifting sunshine.
I was quite happy therefore to receive the following press release and invitation to a new gallery/exhibition opening in Kiev next week. Not only do I have a new reason to leave the house, but the photographer is renowned for her work and the subject (the everyday lives of LGBT families in Ukraine) is refreshingly contentious. Much as I love Ukraine, minority groups are often stigmatised and marginalised here, so anything that shines a light of them and enhances public understanding must surely be a good thing.
“A Room of My Own”
photographs by Yevgenia Belorusets
dedicated to the everyday lives of LGBT families in Ukraine
Date: 3rd of May 2012 at 18.00
Location: At the Visual Culture Research Center in Kyiv (26 Kostyantynivska St., “Zhovten” Cinema, Metro: Kontraktova Ploscha)
Event: Within the framework of the project of the Visual Culture Research Center entitled: “Image in the Dark: Contemporary Critical Photography”, which is part of the parallel programme of the 1st Kyiv International Biennale of Contemporary Art ARSENALE 2012, we invite you to attend the opening of the exhibition by Ukrainian photographer and artist Yevgenia Belorusets – “A Room of My Own”. The exhibition organisers are also proud to announce a performance by Ukrainian artist Alevtina Kakhidze to take place on the opening night, entitled: “On the subject of gender discrepancies among inhabitants of the planet Geten”
This exhibition is dedicated to the everyday lives of Ukrainian LGBT and Queer families, who have to overcome harassment and threats of violence on a daily basis because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Queer is a political position. It offers an alternative to common binary oppositions within society, such as male vs. female, homosexual vs. heterosexual, or norms vs. aberrations. It also rejects marginalisation, social exclusion and discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation.
“A Room of My Own” consists of a series of documentary photographic portraits and testimonies by the stars of this project, who the artist met during trips to various cities across Ukraine.
Through fragmented sketches of domestic life, with all its joys and pains, Yevgenia Belorusets and the heroes and heroines of her project tell their personal stories, affording us a brief glimpse of what lies behind the thick curtain which ordinarily separates their private lives from their public identities.
Silence surrounding the subject of homosexuality both enforces discipline upon and discriminates against the everyday reality of queer people and queer families. Society’s judgement splits people into two camps according to which two sexes people choose to form a family. There are those who can speak about their personal lives, and those who are forbidden to speak it aloud. As a result, one group of people are accorded greater value and relevance simply because of a mythological idea of what constitutes “normality” – a standardisation of human life.
The photographer’s artistic and political intention is to make the invisible visible. To do this, she uses neutral photo-portraits and dialogue with interested parties. Her goal – to reveal that which is hidden – involves overcoming alienation in order to uncover a closed-off world where the participants in this project have found themselves against their will.
The heroes and heroines of “A Room of My Own” agreed to talk about their everyday lives without embellishment, despite the risk they face of being publicly judged.
Texts accompanying pictures, which the photographer wrote down based on interviews with them, are an integral part of the exhibition.
An important element of Yevgenia Belorusets’ artistic statement is her intention to deconstruct negative imagery associated with transgender and homosexual people, which is built on stereotypes and on a desire not to know more about the lives of queer people.
Unfortunately, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia are widespread in Ukraine. These attitudes impose severe limitations on the personal freedoms of homosexual and transsexual people.
This type of social exclusion can and should be stopped. All of us are equally responsible for ensuring that this happens.
The exhibition will include visual material about a demonstration called “Shut it down and archive it!” (Zakryvay i archivuy!), which took place in protest against censorship of the work of the Visual Culture Research Center at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, and the Center’s eventual closure by the Executive Board of the University. It will also include work made especially for this demonstration by architect Oleksandr Burlaka.
Curator: Nataliya Tchermalykh
Designer: Aleksandr Burlaka
The exhibition will run from the 3rd to the 20th of May 2012 at the following address:
Visual Culture Research Center in Kyiv (26 Kostyantynivska St., “Zhovten” Cinema, Metro: Kontraktova Ploscha)
Working hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 12:00-21:00
The exhibition is supported by The Ukrainian Women’s Fund (UWF).
Partners: Visual Culture Research Center, “Insight” NGO, Prostory Journal for Literature and Arts, Heinrich Böll Foundation.
“A Room of My Own” in the media: