“I often wonder about the discrepancy between the teachings of the church and what is written in the Bible and other holy texts. Growing up in a Russian Orthodox community in Zurich, I was taught a very conservative, heteronormative way of living and loving. Being always fascinated by saints, I used to read a lot about them in different books and Akathist Hymns (a hymn praising a saint’s life). At one point though, the ambivalence between the Russian Orthodox church and my sexuality became so intense that I decided to leave the church. I was 18 years old then. The need for an alternative view on religion and iconography made me re-analyze my religious knowledge in the following years. I realized that the church and the community are often preaching a dogma, which is based on tradition rather than on what the Bible or other writings were telling. When looking for the queer-coded life of saints and biblical figures, I noticed that the heteronormative interpretations given by the church makes the difference. An alternative way of living and loving is possible, and even accepted and through sainthood even supported by the church, but at the same time not for the normal church goers.
Although this research is based on religious topics, it shouldn’t be become a religious work, it’s more a personal journey asking myself where do I come from and who am I? This got me questioning how can I use this experience and knowledge for my personal artistic practice. But also, how can this be used for art institutions and museum collections to create a more diverse experience?”