Washington-Moscow (Security Risk Diptychs), 2008-2021
Washington-Moscow (Security Risk Diptychs) explores the mirroring cases of state homophobia across the ideological divide: in the Soviet Union in the 1930s and the United States in the 1950s. The project posits the mid-20th century homosexual as the shared "Other" of the Communism-Capitalism dichotomy.
The histories of the Red and Lavender scare in the US overlapped during the McCarthy era in the late 1940s-1950s. The anti-Communist, anti-Soviet, and anti-gay sentiments were fused in the Cold War witch-hunt rhetoric in the US. At the time, the federal government purged homosexuals that it employed, calling them “security risks”— predisposed to betrayal and vulnerable to being blackmailed by Soviet agents into working for them. A link between political and sexual “deviancy” and state treason was established in the media and state echelons of Cold War America.
Earlier in 1933-34, in the Soviet Union, homosexuality was presented by the State security apparatus as a political and security issue, and it was officially criminalized and stigmatized as ideologically anti-Soviet "capitalist degeneracy.” This position was justified by the need to crush foreign spies recruiting among Soviet homosexuals in the government and the army. The Soviet sodomy laws were used as a political tool against political dissidents and to solidify Soviet opposition to Nazi Germany in the early 1930s. The Soviet state conflated homosexual relations with espionage activities and a betrayal of one’s homeland.
Locations photographed by Yevgeniy Fiks in Washington-Moscow (Security Risk Diptychs) had been popular gay cruising sites in Moscow and Washington circa 1930s-1950s. Views of Moscow and those of Washington are pared based on formal visual similarity.