Soviet Cruising

NY-based Russian artist Yevgeniy Fiks captures the unexplored gay terrain of Moscow

Moscow Cruising
Yevgeniy Fiks

This article is part of a series on the gay scene in Russia in response to the country's horrific anti-gay laws. Read more here.

Moscow born Yevgeniy Fiks creates artworks inspired by the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Despite having lived in New York since 1994, he describes being moved by necessity to re-examine the Soviet experience. It's lead him to send copies of Lenin's "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism" to the world's biggest corporations including Gap and Coca-Cola, draw a series of American Cold War veterans, and write the Communist Guide to New York City.

His recent book Moscow unveils the city's hidden gay history through documenting cruising spots from the early 1920s to the USSR's dissolution in the early 1990s. Parks, squares, public toilets stand quiet and empty, statues of Marx and Lenin like silent witnesses of stories which contemporary Moscow no longer wants to remember.

Dazed talked to Fiks about Moscow and the current crisis of LGBT rights in Russia. 

Dazed Digital: When did you first have an idea of the project and how did it develop? 

Yevgeniy Fiks: I took all these photos back in 2008 long before the current crisis. Originally, I thought of this project as a type of commemoration of the lost and repressed generations of Soviet-era gays. 

DD: How did you research the cruising spots? 

Yevgeniy Fiks: Some sites I knew myself, I also talked to people, and did a lot of reading. 

DD: What do you think about the current anti-gay government initiatives and what does it say about contemporary Russia? 

Yevgeniy Fiks: What's going on right now is a Thermidorian reaction after twenty years of improvement.  In 2013, the so-called "new Russia" betrayed its LGBT subjects.

DD: Do you consider your work as a subtle protest or more a reminder of the historical context? 

Yevgeniy Fiks: This project is about writing Moscow's LGBT history, and writing history is always political.

Pictures from Moscow were originally published at The Calvert Journal, a guide to creative Russia, as a part of 'Cruising past' piece by art critic Agata Pyzik

Find out more about Yevgeniy Fiks here and here

Buy Yevgeniy's 'Communist guide to New York' 

This article is part of a series on the gay scene in Russia in response to the country's horrific anti-gay laws. Read more here.

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