Victoria Suvorova

I am an artist and researcher born in Russia and living in the UK. My works are related to issues of gender, sexuality and ways of transgressing from them, as well as to various approaches to non-Western cultures within the Western cultural paradigm. In my works I use a mixed technique on paper with lithography methods, which allows me to incorporate historical representation of people whose appearance does not confirm to social ideas on femininity and masculinity. My project presented at the international festival “Open Art” allows me to give the viewer an opportunity to flip through a book where history and its oblivion are intertwined, yet the hope of reuniting the connection between the past and the present is still glimmering. Written in the artistic language of painting, the Green Book is a kind of archive, the purpose of which is not only to resist the erasure of gender diversity from history, but also to take responsibility for our future.

Victoria Suvorova, “Green Book”, mixed technique on paper, 2018

The “Green Book” is the result of the study of representations of female masculinity in Soviet history through artistic practice. The research, which is based on the practice of art, emerged as a result of the problematization of representations of female masculinity amid the law on “homosexual propaganda” in the Russian Federation. The exposition was designed as a way to normalize, or at least accept female masculinity. Modern Russia continues the Soviet tradition of isolating society from various forms of diversification, but if the practice of pathologization was used in the USSR, this practice is now replaced by a rejection of social diversification as alien, imported Western ideas. In this light, the visual stories depicting the historical representation of gender diversification have been conceptualized in this study not as a medical book, but as an artist’s book. The Green book includes the idea of a pseudo-archive, where the speculative nature of the practice of art, merged with the essentially factual nature of photography, provided the ideal combination to discuss what exists as visual evidence, but is not confirmed as a phenomenon.

The artist and researcher Victoria Suvorova is interested in the issues of gender, sexuality and types of their transgression, as well as the study of different approaches to non-Western cultures in the context of the Western cultural paradigm.

Special thanks to Academicians Dan Healy, Lori Essig and Olga Khoroshilova for permission to use the photo materials without which this work would not have been possible.

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Tyoma Safronchik

The project is a visualization of problems of self-understanding, search for oneself and self-acceptance, difficulties of self-presentation and overcoming external pressure in a homophobic environment.

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Kirill Slobodyanyuk, Moscow.

I explore myself, my feelings through painting. When I paint, I examine my attitude to the object, to the moment that I have lived or live. I paint the men I know, I paint the man I love, the people who struck my nerve. In my work I intermingle shades of what is happening inside and around and undoubtedly excites me: betrayal, emotional closeness, intimacy, chemical sex – things that happen all the time, therefore, almost imperceptibly. I like to paint people lying down: when a person lies, they feel differently. Usually it happens like this: suddenly I see a harmonious combination the depth of the moment and the beauty of the composition, I capture it, and then paint a picture and thus explore the moment. For me, this is both therapy and meditation.

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Yulia Tsvetkova

My name is Yulia Tsvetkova. I was born in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. I have been painting since early childhood. I did not have much choice) My mother is an artist, felt pens, brushes and paints were in my hands since childhood. My first solo exhibitions were held when I was 12 years old.  My works were acquired in many private collections, all over the world. I am self-taught in drawing. After many experiments with style, I came to the conclusion that primitivism is the closest thing to me. Primitivism allows not to be distracted by ‘extraneous’ but to convey the very essence of the object or situation. I draw a lot of inspiration from ethnic art. 

Until recently, I have always been missing something in my art. Only when I discovered activistic art – the puzzle came together. I was fascinated by the idea that it is possible to convey a political or social message through art. And for a couple of years now I have been painting social paintings or illustrations. Most often in my works you can see women. Recently, the topic of repression and persecution has become more and more relevant.

I am now under criminal prosecution, because of my work, which for me proves the power of art. While under house arrest, I managed to participate in two exhibitions of solidarity in absentia, draw a series of paintings on repression and an illustration for a project against torture. Life goes on)

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Asya Sergievskaya

In her paintings, Asya Sergievskaya explores the sexuality and attractiveness of women’s body from the perspective of a lesbian. A female body is exposed by the artist in a classical way of art and nude photography, but she uses bright, intense colors, tight brushstrokes and an expressive play with light and shadow demonstrating both, differences and similarities, in the view on the beauty of the human body typical for hetero- and homosexual relationships.

The author literally demolishes the imaginations of people unfamiliar with LGBT relationships, who assume that lesbians always are manlike or that they just had no success in their relationships with men and subconsciously continue to look for masculine traits in their female partners. Asya shows us in her art the truth: that a woman can love her body and love another woman without imposing masculine traits on her. For many people, it is difficult to accept this truth, which is why the artist gives an impulse to our feelings, to help us feel that things can be different.

The artist encourages us to put logic aside and not to analyze other people’s preferences based only on our own experience and the labels we put on others. Just look at these paintings and accept this different point of view as a given fact and as an opportunity to widen your understanding of beauty.

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 Marie So, a through and through creative person.

For me, art is an opportunity to immerse myself in my own world, opening up different facets of my personality, leaving my world view in the paintings. Like any artist in search, I love experiments thus I will present a small series of cartoons that reflect the illusions of a person living in the modern world.  (Это краткий вариант, далее продолжение для сайта).

The era of consumption, the world of modern technology is imposing on us a heap of false values. It advertises goods not needed by most people, creates trends, public opinions, dictates fashion, deflecting or sifting out all disagreeeres. It is the easiest way to control the masses, distracting people from the most important thing – themselves. Immersed in the illusions of imposed opinions, a person becomes stereotyped and loses the ability to think for himself or herself. However, I believe that people are smart, that even in the abundance of information, everyone can escape and find his place. And sometimes just need a look from the outside is what you need to make it happen.

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Maria Muzalevskaya is a Russian documentary photographer whose work explores the social political issues and personal stories.

Born in Russia in 1990, she got her master’s degree in Boston University with the major in International Relations. She has recently finished her Documentary and Visual Journalism program at International School of Photography. Her ongoing project is about political refugees in Russia who fled their homeland because of political, social and religious unfreedom. Her work was published on such media platforms as,, FAYN magazine, Voice of America, Her project, ‘fifth wave’ was recently exhibited in Soho Photo Gallery in New York, NY.

Fifth wave is project comprised of environmental portraits Russian LGBT immigrants who fled Russia for political and social freedom after 2012, when Vladimir Putin reclaimed power. Unlike some other recent upsurges of immigration, these Russian immigrants represent a new type of emigrant who have fled their homeland in search of political and social freedom: young, educated, and with no post-Soviet nostalgia.

The project also covers stories of LGBT immigrants who escaped discrimination, stigmatization, and life-threatening conditions.

According to a report from the Atlantic Council, 1.6 to 2 million Russians have left for the western democracies since Vladimir Putin’s ascent to the presidency. In that time, the Russian parliament introduced new proposals to accelerate the crackdown on the LGBT community by providing the authority to terminate the parental rights of individuals raising children with same-sex partners. And just last year, a new wave of gay persecution marked by detainment, harassment, and murder began in Chechnya.

This work gives participants a chance to talk openly about what remained for many years hidden.

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Sasha, 35, a care coordinator in an alliance for positive change. 

Sasha left Russia in 2014.

“I immigrated from Russia because a homophobic company organized against me, as an associate professor at the university and as LGBTQ activist. in a short time, I learned what a‘ witch hunt’ is, the threat of arrest, harassment, and the psychological shock when you can lose everything.”

Egor, 28, currently working in a cleaning service.

Harlem, New York City, February 11, 2019.

Egor was arrested in Saint Petersburg for a one-man protest against limits on freedom of speech. During his five-day detainment he was denied anti-HIV care. He left Russia in 2018 for political reasons.

“The moment I understood that my country is killing me, I decided to leave. Here I feel better than in my homeland, even without having a passport.”

Egor, 21, the youngest regional manager of Alexei Navalny’s 2018 Russia presidential campaign.

Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, May 4, 2019.

Egor left Russia in 2018.

“I managed to build a coordinated machine for promoting democracy and freedom in the Kaliningrad region. My team kept working diligently, despite constant pressure from the police and local authorities. As a result of our movement, after a year of the campaign the ultimatum from the security forces to me was simple: either I agree to undergo psychiatric treatment at a mental asylum, or they put me in jail on fabricated charges. I chose freedom and therefore crossed the border into Lithuania on foot that evening.”

Eugene, 27, is currently working for a cleaning service.

New York City.

February 16, 2019.

Eugene left Russia in 2018 because of discrimination.

“Until I was diagnosed with HIV, I was working for one of the well-known Russian banks. I was forced to leave that position ‘voluntarily’ because my boss knew about my diagnosis through my insurance company.”

Vasiliy, 30, a professor in Russian literature.

Columbia University, New York City, March 24, 2019.

Vasiliy left Russia in 2011.

Olga, 31, a filmmaker and journalist.

East Harlem, New York City, March 24, 2019.

Olga left Russia in 2011.

“Russia is a great country to come from, with its universal education and knack for generalizations, as well as its peculiar, national wit. America is a great country to come after…”

“Differences notwithstanding, Russia and America share imperial grandeur. The one opting for either of them is robbing himself.”

Alexander Donskoy

I am a performer artist. My creative purpose is to blur the line between art and reality. I am both, a subject and an object of the artistic process. Creativity gives me the opportunity to raise controversial, socially significant topics and speak about them in the world’s most beautiful language – the language of art. I explore acute social issues – tolerance, rights and freedoms of sexual minorities, nature of masculinity and femininity, stereotypes and taboos that surround gender and sexuality. 

My painting “Black and white rainbow” is a symbol of oppressed LGBT communities. The Rainbow Flag, known as the Pride Flag and Freedom Flag, is an international symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, as well as a movement for their human rights. My Black and White Rainbow is a symbol of those who are humiliated, terrorized, oppressed, imprisoned and sentenced to death because of their sexual orientation. The funds that’ll be received from the sale of this painting will go to the LGBT community in Africa, which today is one of the most vulnerable in the world.

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Vlada Volnovskaya

A memorable and controversial artist. She is at the very beginning of forming her creative profile.

«Loneliness as a fact».

The definition has two different phenomena: positive (privacy) and negative (isolation). However, more often it is mentioned with negative intonations, referring to the state of a person in which they feel unwanted, rejected, misunderstood and, in this regard, experiencing inner distress. Prominent psychologists call Loneliness a disease of modern society, since choosing to live alone is an acquired skill.

Nevertheless, it is known that the medal has 2 sides.

The one who is not developed enough as an individual, who is not able to enter into relations with the world one – on – one, suffers in isolation. Being deprived of connections with other people and not finding a worthy companion in himself or herself, he or she accepts the fact of Loneliness as suffering.

And outstanding, highly spiritual people value solitude as an important resource for creativity and self-development.

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Project “Trans-Community: the history of the struggle for their rights”

This art and information project was created by the organization of transgender people and their relatives T*Revers (Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don). All project participants are transgender people. 

His idea is to make the participation and importance of transgender people at different times visible, to emphasize the efforts made in the active struggle for their rights, gender equality and against sexism and discrimination.

“We decided to make the project as a succession between generations. It is very important that now and in the future we know and do not forget people who fought against injustice, stood at the origins of legal changes and now helps us to go further and look to the future with optimism. 

Tor Shirokov, manager of the project  for transgender people and their relatives T*Revers. 

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Lisa Darbinyan

Lisa Darbinyan was born in Kazan in 1991.

She studied at the Kazan Art School at the Department of Painting and the St. Petersburg Stieglitz Academy of Art and Design at the Department of Artistic Ceramics and Glass.

Now the artist is working on creation of graphics, animation films and ceramic objects in St.-Petersburg.

The world is full of information and noises of all kinds, and to give the spectator a break to relax from the screams of the surrounding world and to be in silence, I create works in a minimalist style.  I am convinced that the inner essence of things is silence, stillness and absolute purity; therefore, to get closer to the truth, which everyone desires consciously or not, can only be possible through silence – external and internal.

The line in my philosophy is something fragile, changeable, capricious, almost casual, and I can describe the physical world surrounding us with the same words; this is why all figures in my works are recreated with the help of a line.

The background of all my drawings is white. This color contains all the colors of the rainbow, and for me it is a symbol of silence that contains all the existing sounds. The white color in my works represents pervasive silence, absolute harmony that permeates the fiber of reality.  My message: the world is illusory, and the truth of life is beyond the visible forms.

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Alyona Lyovina — artist, activist, mainly focuses on the rights of people with disabilities in Russia.

In particular she focuses on accessibility issues during cultural events and discrimination against LGBTQ + people with disabilities. Alyona is the co-founder and leading coordinator of the association “Women. Disability. Feminism”. 

Alyona was born in 1988 in Moscow. She graduated from the Moscow State Textile University as an costume designer. 

Her post-graduate was between 2011-2013  in “technical aesthetics and design”. She specialized in portrait painting and installations.  Alyona has participated in group exhibitions in Russia and the USA, and  had solo exhibitions in Moscow.

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Tomas Gunnarsson, the Gender Photographer.

Images in mass media can be a conservative force in society – cementing narrow gender roles, stereotypes and ideas about who is “normal” and who is not. But images can also be used to challenge those norms, and make society more open, accepting and equal. This will be the topic of the lectures and creative workshops by Swedish journalist and photographer Tomas Gunnarsson, also known as the Gender Photographer. He will also present his photo exhibition “Images that change the world: a guide to equal communication”, created in collaboration with the City of Gävle and the Swedish Institute.

 Tomas Gunnarsson will not be attending Open ArtFest in the flesh due the ongoing pandemic, but will be present on a big screen via his home studio in Stockholm. In the venue, however, will be his and the Swedish Institute’s photo exhibition Images That Change the World, brought to Moscow in collaboration with the Civil Rights Defenders and Open ArtFest.

Tomas Gunnarsson: “We have plenty of pictures of how the gender roles ‘should’ be played. Pictures that limit us all. But we can create new rules. We are more fluid and changeable than we think. To show that this is possible is my primary goal as a gender photographer. To tickle our imagination about who we can be.”

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Bikkie Ly is a contemporary, conceptual fine art artist who attempts to exploit profound and thought provoking interpretations of issues, using digital multimedia as her medium. 

Bikkie enjoys the challenges that are involved in making a new piece, as this gives her the motivation to express concepts in a contextualised approach. Gender identity is an ongoing interest to those who do not conform to societies gender norms, being the stereotypes that mainstream society puts upon us depending on our sex. Bikkie is currently working on the project ‘Fragmentation Series’, which explores the concepts and our perceptions of time/reality/memories/unconscious. This will coincide with a research area exploring the links between Trauma & Creativity. This area will be focusing on how symbolism is commonly used, in Surrealism as a form of expression.

Exhibition: One Day (2013) 

A series that explores the concepts around gender identity, particularly that of a Transgendered individual. A transgendered person is someone who are born in the wrong biological gendered body, and feel they are of the opposite gender, trapped inside the wrong body. The images in the series portrays the many different emotional and psychological distress they endure on a daily basis, it is a relentless battle between the mind and body, the silent killer of constantly being reminded they are in trapped inside the wrong body.

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Tove-Mari Odderdal

Female artist from South in Norway. Member of the bord of Pridart Oslo. Also working With    different  artprojects and exhibittions in the South region of Norway. The main  intention is to give the LGBTQ artists/art a safe and serious  platform to show who we are, and tell our stories. 

My artwork is inspired by the Swiss Psychatrist Carl Jungs theory and ideas of a Shadow Self and    The Shadowland. Here we explore new universes and and lands of fairytales. The human mind, with its hidden and primitive emotions creates a mental landscape, characters and phenomenons. Our deepest fears and things we woud rather keep hidden, are here exposed and brought into the daylight. I mainly work with acrylic paint on canvas and photography. My focus is to emphasize the figurative form of the photography, while still keeping the painterly look in my works. I like to explore new and innovative ways of mixing photography and paint by combining a wide range of techniques

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Natasha Kim, 30, is an artist.

I draw illustrations and comics. Most of my paintings are about gender, the LGBT community and some of the social initiatives I am interested in.

Sascha Schloser, painter and graphic artist.

I work in the genres of expressionism and art-brew. In my works I raise the theme of gender – the beauty of binary and the beauty of non-binarity.

Hi! My name is Zhenya Sever, I’m 23 years old and I’m a transgender guy.

The idea for this comic book came to me during my long transition, when I had nothing left but to wait and survive. Dysphoria is a tough thing, and everyone shows it in their own way. I have friends who don’t judge me but support me in many ways. Their support brings me back to earth. If you, or any of your loved ones, are fighting this thing, know that you are not alone, and I want you to surround yourself with supportive people. Remember to love each other.

Taisia Simonova

“I am a psychologist and a feminist. I have a blog in Tik-Tok about psychology, sexual orientation and gender identity”.

Polina Rudd, LGBT activist, art activist, feminist.

“The idea to draw a comic book about the detention at Fem Camp did not come up by chance, as Taisia and I were the co-organizers of the event. Usually everything I write or draw is what I was worried about. The comic book about Yulia Tsvetkova is a new experience. But it is a story that struck many people, including us”.