They tread on the streets of Moscow as strangers, attempting to walk in the wrong direction on the escalator, and crawl on the floors of the subway. They swing lankily in their high heels, lost but determined. Their eyes are pitch black, their skin pure white, and their faces expressionless. Aliens have arrived.
In fact, the otherworldly beings wandering on the streets of Moscow are drag creatures, artivism performances of 20-year-old queer activist Gena Marvin. By her own definition, the characters are entities from outside the realm of gender: mirror images of the horrible things that she has faced as a queer person in Russia.
The looks of the creatures, unsuitable for the norms of public space, sum up how gendered bodies and spaces are stages for power dynamics: Gena is stared at, verbally insulted, and faces physical violence. Still, unyielding Gena’s creatures appear time after time on the streets of Moscow, to be visible and take blows – to exist.
In the atmosphere aggravated by Russia’s attack on Ukraine almost two years ago, the denial of the existence of LGBTQ+ people became the official truth of the state. The generally violent attitudes slid all the way to the state and legislative levels. Queendom reminds us that the reality of people pushed to the margins behind the eastern border is horrifying – and that we must shout for the silenced on the barricades, while we can.
Aleksi Julkunen (translated by Inari Ylinen)
Content warning: homophobia
Director Agniia Galdanova has unfortunately had to cancel her visit to the festival due to the air traffic strike.