Yevgeniy Fiks — Homosexuality Is Stalin’s Atom Bomb To Destroy America


Mixed media

Yevgeniy Fiks
Homosexuality Is Stalin’s Atom Bomb To Destroy America

Past: January 10 → February 22, 2014

In a time when gays are being called agents of the West in Russia, Fiks’s work reflects on the McCarthy era in the United States, a time when homophobia was also instrumentalized as a political tool.

Taking its title from a 1953 article by the Cold Warrior and pundit Arthur Guy Mathews, Fiks looks at the historical and ideological links between anti-Communism and homophobia in the United States, as well as the intersections between Communism and sexual identity as it played out during the 20th century.

During the “Red” and “Lavender” scares, anti-Communist and anti-gay sentiments were fused together in the Cold War witch-hunt rhetoric. Pundits and government officials went as far as envisioning a sinister conspiracy: the Soviet Union is promoting homosexuality as a tool to destroy America. Concurrently, the federal government purged homosexuals that it employed, calling them “security risks”, vulnerable of being blackmailed by Soviet agents into working for them.

Mirroring its ideological enemy, the American Communist Party also purged known gays from its ranks, marking them as “security risks”, for fear that gay Communists were vulnerable to blackmail and could become informants for the Feds. The official charter of the Communist Party USA even before its 1950s anti-gay purge strictly prohibited gays from membership, adhering to the policies of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union where homosexuality was officially criminalized under Stalin and stigmatized as a “capitalist degeneracy.”.

The gallery will present Stalin’s Atom Bomb a.k.a. Homosexuality, as well as, the book Moscow. Stalin’s Atom Bomb a.k.a. Homosexuality is a series of prints that highlights paranoid anti-communist and anti-gay quotations from American politicians and pundits of the era.

As for Moscow, the book documents gay cruising sites in Soviet Moscow, from the early 1920s to the USSR’s dissolution in the early 1990s. Photographed in 2008 in a simple but haunting documentary style, these sites of the bygone queer underground present a hidden and forgotten Moscow with a particular focus on Revolutionary Communist sites appropriated by queer Muscovites. The book concludes with the first English-language publication of a 1934 letter to Joseph Stalin in which British communist Harry Whyte presents a Marxist defense of homosexuality in light of its re-criminalization in the USSR.

Conceptual artist, Yevgeniy Fiks (born in 1972 in Moscow, works and lives in New York) questions the complexity of political and historical relations between American democracy and soviet communism through his installation, performance, painting, and works on paper. His work is shown in international exhibitions : Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros (Mexico City), MoMA (New York), Museu Colecção Berardo in Lisbon and also the contemporary art biennial in Moscow (2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011), in Sydney (2008) or in Thessaloniki (2007).

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The artist

  • Yevgeniy Fiks