Surviving in the shadow of the un/seen: on the paradoxical in/visibility of El Kazovsky

Susan Stryker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-282
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Visual Culture
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • El Kazovsky
  • Hungary
  • homoprotectionism
  • non-binary
  • transgender
  • transsexual
  • visual arts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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