A Room of My Own

This project - A Room of My Own - is aimed at giving voice and visibility to queer and LGBT families in Ukraine. These people currently face widespread discrimination across nearly all levels of Ukrainian society, both from far-right groups, politicians and church leaders, as well as from the working class, middle class liberals and left-wing intellectuals.

“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, I 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.

My artistic and political intention is to make the invisible visible. My 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 I wrote down based on interviews with them, are an integral part of the exhibition.

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 in Kiev (VCRC, 03.05.12 – 20.05.12), curated by Natalia Chermalych, included 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.

This exhibition was also shown in Simferopol (Art-centre „Karman“, 08.06.12 – 30.06.12) and in Uzhgorod during the Summer-school “Gender, Sexuality, and Power” (July, 2012).