Ruth Jenrbekova

Queer Laboratory Life: Constructions of Artifacts

The project is an attempt to implement recent ecological and Actor-Network approaches 1 to study under-recognized contemporary art practices in the context of post-Soviet Kazakhstan. The main idea is to apply the ethnographic methods of laboratory studies (which is a part of the interdisciplinary field called  Science and Technology Studies) to the everyday routines of queer artistic life. Hence the name of the project, which is a recognizable reference  to the founding work of laboratory studies — “Laboratory Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts” by Latour and Woolgar 2. The word “queer” placed before “laboratory” is supposed to indicate that, firstly, it’s not a real institution, but an imaginary one — a laboratory as a metaphor, — and, secondly, it’s a site of experimentation involving both life and art. The second part of the title — “Constructions of Artifacts”— is intended to emphasize that the artifacts are not only passively constructed, but also are actively constructing something else, as important non-human social agencies.

The project aims at discovering new ways to describe/ interpret contemporary queer and feminist art in post-Soviet countries, primarily in Kazakhstan, keeping the focus on under-institutionalized and DIY initiatives. The main case study of the research is an imaginary art-institution titled Kreolex zentr 3, which has been run since 2012 by me and my partner artist.

Jenrbekova, 2015, (C) Kreolex zentre

Jenrbekova, 2017, (C) Nicolas Harter
Ruth Jenrbekova was born in Almaty city, Kazakhstan. Since 1997 she has been involved in various cultural initiatives. Being a precarious employee of an imaginary art-institution, she tries to combine several roles and positions, working in a duo with her partner artist Maria Vilkovisky.


1. About proximity between ecology and Actor-Network Theory see: Ecologising Sociology: Actor-Network Theory, Co-construction and the Problem of Human Exemptionalism byJonathan Murdoch, Sociology
Vol. 35, No. 1 (February 2001), pp. 111-133.
2.  Bruno Latour, Steve Woolgar, Laboratory Life. The Construction of Scientific Facts, Sage Publications, 1979, Princeton University Press, 1986.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.