This short, first-person essay describes and briefly evaluates the life and work of the Russian–Hungarian trans-identified artist El Kazovsky (1948–2008). It principally focuses the author’s viewing of ‘The Survivor’s Shadow: The Life and Work of El Kazovsky’ – a massive, 19-room retrospective exhibition at the Hungarian National Gallery in 2015–2016. The author explores the paradox of El Kazovsky’s visibility as a nationally celebrated artist in a moment of extreme state-sanctioned queer-phobia, and the illegibility of his transness. It ends by suggesting that the practice of ‘surviving in shadow’ is increasingly necessary given the continued worldwide drift toward reactionary ethno-nationalist politics that are hostile to trans lives.
- El Kazovsky
- visual arts
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Visual Arts and Performing Arts