One of the largest LGBT pride events of Russia, Queer Fest 2015, today opened successfully and is set for the next ten days of events.
Guests and organizers were greeted with warm words of support by representatives of the diplomatic missions of the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, mainstream human rights organizations and LGBT and feminist initiatives of St. Petersburg. Members of the St. Petersburg ombudsman's staff were present, and the police presented no challenges. Despite many difficulties human rights work in Russia faces, the atmosphere of the festival was warm, sincere, and positive.
For the seventh time QueerFest in St. Petersburg speaks out against xenophobia in all its forms. To make its statement, the festival chooses the most peaceful and constructive, but at the same time precise and sharp format - the language of social art.
"Throughout the year, as an LGBT activist I feel isolated and feel the need to make extra efforts to show that we are a part of society. QueerFest is the time when the feeling of mutual support and solidarity amongst different groups of society overwhelms me. It's the "doorway" in our work to something more understood, accessible, shared with everyone," says Anna Anisimova, QueerFest's coordinator.
Ahead of us are 9 days of events, all of which will take place in an open, public format. Please join us or follow us online at http://queerfest.ru/on-line.html
Foto - Svetlana Kolosova
Portrait photographer Vincent Voignier developed an interest in the lives of transgender people while living in the Philippines. Three years ago Vincent began to photograph trans* people in the context of their everyday lives, and in spring of 2015 the photographer came to Russia to continue his project here. This year QueerFest will present the photos Vincent has taken in Russia as part of the photo exhibition "The journey to identity".
Here is what Voignier has to say about his project:
I was surprised to learn that in Russia a majority of transgender people are [trans men]. As far as I could observe and grasp, transgenderism is much less glamourous, support groups are more directed at discussing gender identity issues at a psychological level, and people seem more concerned with how they feel [about their gender identity], not only how they are seen by others as such. The whole transgender community has little visibility. Some transgender people hide their identity at the workplace or in public and only [feel safe being themselves] at home or in trusted circles.
It was therefore difficult to meet transgender people, and only a few were willing to be photographed. This series does not pretend to be representative of the Russian transgender community, but rather gathers the portraits of people I managed to meet, who accepted to pose in front of the camera, and who in the end accepted that their picture will be exhibited in Russia.
Every year the photo exhibition plays a significant role at QueerFest and 2015 is no exception. Very soon we will present to you four unique photo projects, three of which were shot in Russia in the last couple of years.
Wolfgang Tillmans’ project "Activism as an identity"
In 2014, a German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans came to St. Petersburg to shoot a photo project about the LGBT movement in Russia. The photographer met with several young men and women to take photos and record interviews about Russia’s LGBT communities and the difficulties that the open LGBT face. Tillmans was greatly inspired by activists who risk their safety and careers promoting the idea of tolerance in Russian society.
Mads Nissen’s project "Homophobia in Russia"
The Danish photographer’s project is dedicated to the legal and social discrimination, harassment and attacks on the LGBT community in Russia.
Nissen writes: "In 2013 homophobia in Russia has moved from the streets into the legal system - the State Duma unanimously passed an anti-gay law banning so-called "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations”, virtually making it illegal to organize any LGBT events, give speeches in defense of LGBT rights or to equate a homosexual relationship with a heterosexual one”.
One of the photos of the project - "John and Alex" - received an award in 2015 at the World Press Photo international contest.
Sarah Deragon’s project "Identity"
"Identity" or "The Identity Project" - a project by an American portrait photographer Sara Deragon - is dedicated to the study of the diversity of identities among the queer communities in America. The project consists of more than three hundred photographic works and will be presented at QueerFest in the form of a video installation.
"Pansexual gender fluid tomboy", "Lady-gay", "Cool queer fem mom," "Dynamic, playful transqueer", "Brainy genderqueer drag king", "Androgynous queer top" and many other real images of the identities of queer people will be introduced to you.
Note: St. Petersburg’s queer community will also have the opportunity to capture and name their sexual identity and become a part of Sarah’s project when she attends the festival in 2015.
Vincent Voignier’s project on transgenders
The project by the Franco-German photographer is dedicated to feelings and experiences of transgender people around the world.
Vincent shot part of his project in Russia.
It’s time - get ready for QueerFest!
On the festival’s website you can now see the program that will be presented to you in St. Petersburg 17 September to 27 September 2015 – very soon! More on the program...
The International Festival is being held in the cultural capital of Russia for the seventh time - its story began in 2009. More on the history of the festival...
This year the key subject of QueerFest is "Identity": how each and every one of us creates our own identity, what forms it, how diverse identities can be – you will have ten days of the festival to explore it through a variety of photo projects, meetings, concerts and discussions. More on the festival’s subject in 2015...
You will see unique European photo projects dedicated to various aspects of the lives of Russia’s queer communities. And the project by the American photographer Sarah Deragon – Identity - will not only be presented to the Russian audience for the first time, but also continued in St. Petersburg; Sarah is going to add images of Russian queer people to her project. More on The Identity project...
QueerFest-2015 promises real variety – this year’s participants come from Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Vietnam, the United States and Russia. More on this year’s participants...
Follow the announcements and join us at QueerFest!