ARTIST STATEMENT // (NON-TRADITIONAL) MATRYOSHKA DOLLS
The anti-gay law in Russia is, specifically, a ban on “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”. The purpose of my series is to raise awareness by opening up the question, “what is traditional?” What does “traditional” mean both in Russia’s own historical context and in the formation of cultural histories?
These paintings depict prominent LGBT Russians on raw, milled matryoshka dolls (in chronological order, ascending in scale): Ivan the Terrible (1530-1584), Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852), Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) and Alla Nazimova (1879-1945) – a known “tradition” of homosexuality throughout Russian history. The feminist punk rock Pussy Riot, LGBT rights activists, are represented by the largest and outermost doll, encapsulating the series.
The traditional Russian matryoshka dolls, themselves, were inspired by a doll from Honshu, the main island of Japan; a hollow and/or nesting doll depicting an old Buddhist monk.
The matryoshka doll is an official souvenir for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.