Since February 24, 2022, I have been harboring hatred inside me. Normally, I don’t wish harm on anyone, but from this date onward I began to wish all the worst on one person — President Putin. It literally ate away at me, burning holes inside and twisting my internal organs. I wanted to breathe fire and brimstone; I wanted to destroy something. I guess I wasn’t the only one in such a state of mind.
Once I left Russia and cried my first tears, I started to think of how to deal with this hatred. I remembered what my mother kept saying about the customary Nenets’ attitude towards others: if someone is very annoying and provokes dark desires, try to imagine they are your relative, and treat them like a family member. Well, I tried to imagine Putin as my brother or second cousin. What kind of story could this be? While contemplating, I realized that writing a text might help me see that story clearly. Basically, writing and the entire artistic process for me is an experiment in shifting the gaze or even decolonizing the consciousness, which I understand as the ability to follow new paths and explore familiar narratives from a different perspective.
At first, I had vague suspicions that my endeavor was too dubious, but I was already absorbed by reflections on how the imagination can refract reality and literally build new worlds. What is also curious is how this idea was met by those with whom I shared it: they expected it to be an example, which would end with the punishment of evil. Yes, I would like that. But for me, artistic research happens when it’s difficult to predict the end, so the question provoked curiosity in me. But I didn’t want to deceive or disappoint anyone, so I warned the editor, and then surrendered to the unknown and started writing.
Well, I kept ruminating over my hatred for Putin and my desire for him to experience a painful death. I was thinking of my mother’s words, and about the fact that for such peacefulness and willingness to resolve pressing issues non-violently, the Nenets are considered weaklings who cannot stand up for themselves. But if you look closely, what does it mean? It means that in a world ruled by hierarchies, power and brutal force, people / populations who behave differently and practice non violence, they are perceived as fools who cannot defend their independence, therefore they themselves can be blamed for their extermination. And in order to be respected, you need to become as bloodthirsty as those who attack you, and only then will you earn the right to self-determination, language, territory, and life. I suspect there is some nasty trick here. And the problem is not that someone gets involved in these relationships, but that someone attacks, tries to take over by force and considers it normal.
But isn’t it possible to live our truth and have rights simply because we are who we are? And what if we do not assume the survival of the fittest, and the world is ruled by power and brutal force as a life basis? If we imagine that it is not necessary to dominate in order to survive, what would the world be like then? And how would the management, regulation, and interaction of societies perform?
Perhaps then we would need the following statements:
The most delicate is the one who survives in this world.
Empathy and mutual attunement are above all necessary.
Share power — share responsibility.
Everyone is important and has a right to be.
Norms and traditions are not what they seem.
The world could be different.
The world should be more flexible.
But it feels that what is left for us is just…:
to watch closely, to wait,
to think and to act,
to stay safe, to preserve our mind and health,
to keep kindness and gentleness in one’s heart
to be in touch with ourselves, and with others,
not to repeat, not to become the same,
not to reproduce, not to imitate.
To find one’s voice, to grow a soft wool of solidarity,
to cling sideways to each other and bask,
to dream, to gear imagination,
to nurture alternative ways to exist in the world,
to become bigger, more numerous, more important
so that the methods of brutal force lose their relevance and stay in the past.
But not to get stuck on one thing,
listen to the new, look to the old,
to ask questions,
to let life happen
to be alive.
Does having power imply not belonging to oneself?
I believe that power in itself is not always something bad, it simply exists as a phenomenon. But at what point does it discredit itself? When does it become worth something to be avoided? Power is a great responsibility, a burden, and when you are carrying it, it is important to remain sensitive to others, to yourself, to have references beyond its paradigm. But how is this possible?
I talked with a friend about Putin. She proposed to try to think about what it’s like to have such incredible resources at one’s disposal. The only goal of the one who possesses power is to keep it. This is hard work, and this experience is so inaccessible to us (and equally to many people living in this country) that it is even hard to envision. Imagine that you have absolutely everything, and your whole life is governed by the only desire — to preserve what you have. These are completely different tasks and a different dimension of one’s whole being. What would you do then, what fears would you have?
I tried to imagine then, but I still can’t. And even more I cannot understand: what is it all for? Why, if no one is eternal, if natural resources are limited, and if everything is going to change one way or another? How can you be happy if you do harm to others? How long can it last? I refuse to explain this, and I am terrified of the emptiness that lies behind it. However, what do I understand? I can’t even imagine…
I’ve been thinking a lot about Putin recently. I imagined his career if he were my uncle the reindeer herder, imagined our conversation if he were my twin sister. I had a dream where we discussed art and watched the sunset. Perhaps he could be a different person… but I realized that he could not be my relative. It must be a very different country, or I should have been born as someone else in a completely different place in Russia. Otherwise, it is too unrealistic, fabulous, dreamy, almost surreal. And I don’t know how much time must pass, how many generations of those in power must change, how the country should be transformed so that some Nenets woman could claim to rule it, so that my relatives could become president.
Unfortunately, as the days went by, I started to lose the ability and desire to dive into dreams about a new relative. The power regime is a rusted machine, an outdated phantom of the past. What is it fighting and why?
Today I will have my last dream about the president. We will meet in a glass castle on the shores of the bloody sea. In the most hidden secret room, he will be trying to make the phrase SPECIAL OPERATION out of a set of cubes with the letters W, A, R on them — unsuccessfully. At some point, he will break into tears out of impatience, hatred, and loneliness and will keep on crying so long and so hard that he will begin to melt, and then disappear right before my eyes.
Neseine Toholya is a researcher, interdependent with the world, practices decolonial queer, produces text and other artistic products. Born from the spirit of the era, she graduated from the Pedagogical College in Salekhard, the Smolny Institute of Noble Maidens, and the IEP in Prague; currently is a Fellow at the IASS Potsdam. Neseine composes art of varying severity, is in search of meaning, stands for goodness and justice. She likes Sailor Moon and other Japanese cartoons.
Natalia (Tasha) Kotsuba is a Belarusian artist born in 1995. Kotsuba graduated from Belarusian State Pedagogical University named after Maxim Tank (years of studies 2012—2017) with a specialization in Fine Art, Drawing and Folk Art Crafts.
‘Mesca znahodzhannya’, Minsk, Center for Contemporary Arts (2015). Collective exhibition. Participant.
‘LOWBROW’, Minsk, ‘Verkh’ Art Space (2016). Collective exhibition. Participant.
‘Night swimming’, Vitebsk, ‘VZAP’ Art Space (2017). Solo exhibition.
‘Autumn Salon’, Minsk, Palace of Art (2017). Art market. Participant.
Collective exhibition of young Belarusian artists, Vilnius, Arka Gallery (2018). Participant.
‘Autumn Salon’, Minsk, Palace of Art (2018). Art market. Participant.
‘Here and Now’, Minsk, SQUAT Art Space (2018). Collective exhibition. Participant.
‘HIDDEN’, Vitebsk, ‘VZAP’ Art Space (2018). Collective exhibition. Participant.
‘Museum Night’, Minsk, Palace of Arts (2019). Collective exhibition. Participant.
‘Autumn Salon’, Minsk, Palace of Art (2018). Art market. First Place Award.
‘HOME’, Minsk, Palace of Art (2020). Solo exhibition.
Lizaveta Mikhalchuk is an art historian, curator, and art critic. She studied at the European Humanities University (Minsk – Vilnius). Interned at the Graduate School of Arts (Brest, France). Since 2017, Mikhalchuk has been a curator of the KX Space gallery.
In the summer and autumn of 2020, “The Square of Changes” was perhaps the most famous place in the rebellious Minsk geography. At first glance, it is by no means a remarkable patch of land with a modest playground and a gray transformer booth, which suddenly became the epicenter of a series of dramatic events: from spontaneous acts of solidarity and unconditional support, to tragedies that led to the death of a young activist and ruined the lives of anyone who stood against the regime.
Photographer Yauhen Attsetski has a direct connection to the people’s “square” that was named after one of the informal hymns of the protest 2020 – a Viktor Tsoi’s1 song “Changes!”. Living in one of the high-rises nearby, he was fast to realize its historical potential for the annals of the last presidential elections and started his photo project. In his case, however, the neighbor’s perspective gradually transformed into that of an observer with a camera, and later – into an archivist of the history that Lukashenko’s regime would try hard to erase from collective memory. Two years later, Yauhen’s images would be seen by 3 million readers ofThe New York Times, and it would take his team only a fortnight to raise more than 12,000 USD for the publication of the photobook about neighborhood protests demanding change.
In a special interview for the Status Platform, Yauhen Attsetski speaks about a difficult journey from the Tsentralny District Police Department of Minsk, where he ended up after being arrested at a rally, to the Ukrainian town of Lviv, where he is now based with his family in exile. After a search conducted by the KGB, he packed his entire life in several suitcases and in the midst of war, the photographer nevertheless continues doing his job: resisting Lukashenko’s regime to destroy the collective memory of Belarusians and finding reasons to be proud of his people and their struggle for a better future.
Belarusian photographer, citizen journalist. Works mainly in documentary photography. Collaborated with the UNDP, UNICEF, Red Cross. His photos and photo series were published in The New York Times, Sapiens, TIMER, Kultprosvet, etc. ‘He has participated in numerous exhibitions in Belarus and abroad. In 2021, facing political repressions, he moved to Kyiv, and with the outbreak of war – to Lviv, where he is still based.
– I got involved in the political life of Belarus back in 2006 and 2010 when the presidential elections were held, both times ending in a violent suppression of street rallies. Since then, my hope for the country’s different future has been fluctuating: fading with the outbreak of the war in Ukraine in 2015, and strengthening with the “parasites” marches in 20172, but never could I think where and with what thoughts I would enter 2021.
Initially, I was fairly neutral about the 2020 election campaign, but the queues for collecting signatures for alternative candidates at the polling stations quickly brought me back to my senses. It became clear that something very interesting was about to start. So, in May I grabbed my camera and went out to the city – and it was on the streets, documenting the unfolding events, where I remained for almost a year.
Often it is not you who bumps into a story, but a story that bumps into you. After the events of August 9, 20203, Belarus was in a state of shock. It became obvious: the elections had been rigged, and police clubs beat the desired result into people’s heads. However, too many civilians found themselves under the pressure of violence and faced repression, and the strategies of consequence-free aggression successfully tested in the previous elections this time did not work.
On August 11, I heard some noises coming from the backyard and saw my neighbors shining flashlights from their windows and chanting political slogans – actions for an ordinary Minsk neighborhood rather unusual, if not to say “out of the ordinary”. I remember shooting my first video that evening – a reel that later would become part of my project. Further events unfolded very rapidly: the appearance of a mural featuring the opposition DJs on “the Square of Changes”, its endless destruction and restoration, the death of Roman Bondarenko murdered by plainclothes police, Stepan Latypov’s4 arrest. As a documentary photographer, I recorded everything, realizing the extreme importance of not leaving any moment out of my sight.
After the start of the election campaign in Belarus, I always carried my camera around. Almost every day I shot political campaigns and actions held in the city or in my backyard. Finding a common language with my neighbors took some time – initially, they treated me with caution, as they usually do when spotting a man with a camera. Switching between two impulses (the roles of a neighbor and a photojournalist) was not easy, I should admit. The internal conflict was resolved when I realized that the government began to openly break the law. It was then when I made a decision, and my involvement in shooting ceased to be a hindrance, as I began to define my work as citizen journalism. I keep an eye on the documentary element, but at the same time I do not hide my political views and attitudes to what happens in the country.
While shooting, I constantly ran into policemen and tikhars5, and these encounters often ended in verbal disputes. It was difficult to hold back, seeing my neighbors under attack or symbols and objects important for our community destroyed. During the debates, I tried to address policemen not as functions and performers, but as citizens of the Republic of Belarus. I requested them to explain their behavior and asked them if they really wanted to live in such a country and whether they considered what was happening to be normal? These conversations were based on my assumption that doubt could provoke change – and to make tikhars question the adequacy of their actions was what I really wanted to achieve.
In November, after being detained on a Sunday march, I ended up at the Tsentralny District Police Department, where I unexpectedly saw patrolmen and tikhars from our yard. Despite the fact that all of them were either in balaclavas or masked, we recognized one another. I felt a bit uncomfortable finding myself on their “territory” this time. Also, among those working there that evening, there was one man who did not hide his face. Taking me aside, he said, “If I see you in that backyard again, you will pay all your neighbors’ fines!” His face is what I still remember well.
November 15, 2020 – the day of the attack on the “Square of Changes” – became the culmination of my backyard’s story, which made me seriously reconsider the form of my future project. I sent a proposal to create a photobook with a Swiss designer to Pro Helvetia and was selected. The work was carried out in a team: Melina Wilson helped us with the design, and the editor Alesya Pesenka – with the texts. In addition to photojournalistic storytelling, we decided to focus on eyewitnesses’ accounts and already then (in early 2021) I began collecting materials and shooting the portraits of the protagonists.
Since I immediately saw the project as a composite, consisting of exhibitions, a website and a photobook, I also approached shooting portraits in a complex manner. At first, I was planning to photograph all the participants with their faces in the open and hidden, thinking I could use the open variants, in color, in the book, and the closed ones, black and white, on the site. However, observing the repressions only growing in scale, I soon realized that the time to reveal my protagonists’ identities had not yet come.
But the materials I was collecting included not only photojournalistic documentation and interviews – to get a wider picture I also addressed my neighbors asking them to share mobile snapshots and videos of the main events that had occurred on “the Square of Changes”. This archive made it possible for me to almost completely restore the timeline of the mural’s creation and destruction. It turned out that the image of “the DJs of Changes” appeared on the wall more than 20 times.
I am very glad to have managed to collect my neighbors’ stories at the beginning of 2021, when the residents of “the Square of Changes” were still full of hope and shared their experiences very sincerely. Now, after almost two years of terror, people are extremely careful about being vocal and are very much prone to self-censorship. Fear seems to have consumed the whole country and its people. Today, making such emotional interviews would be impossible.
The goal of our project is not to let history be rewritten. In one of his speeches, Lukashenko said that he did not mind “turning over a new leaf”, which implied that he wanted to forget the events of 2020 and continue living “as before”. However, turning the page with one hand, the authorities use the other one to impose the regime of political terror, closing all the NGOs, all educational and cultural initiatives, liquidating independent media and giving unthinkably harsh prison sentences for any manifestation of dissent. My team and I, like many other Belarusians, consider it unacceptable to turn a blind eye to what is happening, and the project represents our attempt to remember and document the events of 2020-2021.
I see a photobook as an ideal form of such documentation because the book itself is a physical object that one cannot so easily cancel from the material world. In our case, the texts will be in two languages – in English and Belarusian, which we believe to be important. In 2022, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it became clear that confronting the eastern neighbor, with its imperial ambitions and a pronounced resentment, is a central goal of the entire region, and here language becomes one of the tools to distance ourselves.
In addition to the release of the photobook, we are planning to launch a site in four languages: in Belarusian, English, Russian and Polish. We have held more than 10 exhibitions across Europe. The most expressive, by the way, was the exhibition in Riga, where the festival’s organizers built a full-scale mock-up of the booth from “the Square of Changes” with a flag, a mural with “the DJs” and my photographs.
When working on the project, for the first time in my life, I also played an art manager’s role. As a manager, I had to deal with correspondence and meetings, fundraising, and accounting (searching for ways to finance my team’s salaries). Many of the team members (most of them are Belarusians, but there are also guys from Switzerland and Ukraine) were ready to work at reduced rates, some – for free. However, I believe that paying decent salaries to culture workers is extremely important, so I did my best to find ways to reward them for their input, which was not always easy… We addressed various organizations, called up embassies’ representatives, but many of our applications were never answered… I clearly felt the art world’s bureaucracy. Understanding that I did not want to change my project to fit every grant, I suggested organizing a crowdfunding campaign and reaching out to the community.
We managed to collect the requested amount in about a fortnight. We received a lot of orders from Poland and the USA – countries with strong Belarusian diasporas. Of course, I would really like the book to end up in the homes of Belarusians in our homeland, but so far, unfortunately, it is too dangerous. Ordering books from Belarus is possible, but delivery there is still questionable.
So far, we have received orders from 33 countries, and we also would like to send copies out to libraries. In April 2022, the issue of The New York Times came out with my photo on the cover – more than 3 million readers got acquainted with a story of our yard. I am very glad that so many people learnt about the events taking place in an ordinary Minsk backyard. This prevents Lukashenko’s regime from just turning over a new leaf. My neighbors were arrested and beaten, searches were carried out in their apartments, some are still in prison, many were forced to leave the country. How can you turn a blind eye to this and pretend that nothing happened? The Belarusians have demanded and are continuing to demand justice.
In July 2021, the KGB came to my wife with a search warrant (fortunately, she was not at home). This episode forced us to pack up and leave Belarus, and Kyiv became our new home – but not for long. On February 24, Yulia woke me up showing a video of Russian tanks entering Ukraine through the Belarusian border. This pushed us on the road again, and a few days later we arrived in Lviv. Of course, the war greatly unsettled me, but I managed to pull myself together and continued working on the project. The final variant of the photobook was sent to the printing house from Ukraine – the most important place in our region at this historical moment.
One day, on a bus I met a woman from Kharkiv. The trip was long, and we had enough time to discuss a lot of different topics: from politics and her life in Kharkiv to the former Khirkov governor Dobkin and “Ahnenerbe” research society, founded in 1935 by Himmler in order to search for artifacts of the ancient power of the German race. Like many Ukrainians who I had a chance to communicate with here, the woman was fascinated by Lukashenko’s animal-like resourcefulness, in which I often saw a reflection of a certain internal conflict. On the one hand, people in Ukraine hate Lukashenko for letting Russian tanks into the country, and on the other hand, they cannot but recognize his vitality and cunning.
To help my travel companion better imagine what many Belarusians had gone through in 2020, I showed her a still unfinished site about “the Square of Changes”, where one of the videos clearly showed hundreds of people gathered to honor the memory of the murdered artist Roman Bondarenko. After watching the fragment, she exclaimed, “And did it really happen in Minsk??”
I have been living in Ukraine for a year, having numerous contacts with the locals and I understand that many people have a very vague idea of the events in Belarus in 2020-2021. Most often, they admit to having actively followed the very start of the protests, then their interest faded, and later they only saw the headlines of individual tragedies, such as a plane landing with Roman Protasevich. And such a reaction seems natural to me: the Belarusians showed the same level of interest in the Maidan in 2013-2014. Unfortunately, the Belarusians and Ukrainians still know each other very poorly and do not always understand the peculiarities of the contexts. If I manage to stay in Ukraine (the Belarusians are now facing a lot of difficulties with legalization), I would like to do joint projects with local cultural figures. I am sure that something interesting might be born out of the dialogue between these two cultures, and we will begin to better understand our peoples.
Viktor Tsoi was a Soviet singer and songwriter of Korean-Russian origin who co-founded “Kino” – one of the most popular and musically influential bands in the history of Russian-language rock music.↩
A series of peaceful rallies held in 2017 in Minsk and a number of reginal centers in Belarus as people’s spontaneous reaction to a tax levied against the unemployed (or “parasites”, as Lukashenko would define them).↩
Belarus security forces viciously beat and detained protesters over the country’s presidential election outcome on August 9 and 10, 2020. The security forces used stun grenades, rubber bullets and slugs, blanks from Kalashnikov-type rifles, and tear gas against demostrators who gathered in Minsk and a few other Belarusian cities to protest the official election results, which were largely recognized as rigged. See, for example, here https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/08/11/belarus-violence-abuse-response-election-protests↩
One of the most famous “Square of Change” residents, an arborist who was attacked and heavily beated by plainclothes police force members in his own yard and later sentenced to 8.5 years of prison for giving flowers to female protestors in Augist 2020 in Minsk. During the trail Stepan tried to commit suicide with his last words being “”GUBOP [the most infamous police unit in Belarus] promised that if I don’t plead guilty, there will be criminal cases against my relatives and neighbours”.↩
Partner of the STATUS platform, Brest Space KX presents its virtual incarnation — www.spacekx.com. The website, as the KX Space today, includes the KX Gallery and the Kryly Khalopa Theater. The KX Theater part is still under development, but the KX Gallery is now fully functional online. As before, the presentation and promotion of contemporary critical Belarusian art remain the main task of the KX Gallery online. “Despite challenging circumstances, this site is an endeavor to continue our work, to maintain contact between artists and the public, to make Belarusian art “seen”, to preserve and develop it, in the conditions of a total rupture of ties and an almost completely scorched field of art in Belarus.” The space of KX is an independent cultural platform created in 2014 in Brest (Belarus) by the team of Kryly Khalopa Theater for communication, research, and production in the field of contemporary theater, critical art, and non-formal education. In June 2021, KX Space was forcibly closed by the Belarusian authorities – as did hundreds of other non-state institutions. Since then, KX Space has renewed its gallery activities online and presented Belarusian art offline outside of Belarus.
Antiwarcoalition.art is an open online platform that collects statements against war and dehumanization created by artists from all over the world. Driven by the Russian aggression and war against Ukraine, this platform presents an opportunity to protest against war, massacres, and inhuman punishment of civilians, dictatorship, and patriarchal power structures. Antiwarcoalition.art shares artists’ and culture workers’ voices to public spaces and art institutions all over the world through a sequence of public presentations. The carefully programmed platform enables viewing and sharing art statements online.
It is an opportunity to express solidarity with those in Ukraine who are affected by military aggression, colonial, patriarchal, imperialistic, and political repression and those resisting terror.
The aim of antiwarcoalition.art is not only to present the artworks online but also to distribute them offline, by means of different events and presentations to bring the voices of artists to public spaces all over the world.
We stand for a global, open, and engaged network of solidarity that is not subjected to territorial, national, and any other borders. We are appealing to cultural workers worldwide to publish their anti-war, anti-dictatorial statements and artworks such as posters, videos, audio etc. on our platform.
What are we looking for?
Antiwarcoalition.art mission is to organize networks of solidarity in the fight against Russian aggression, support Ukrainians, and also show that the war that is taking place in Ukraine today is part of the global colonial, imperialist processes that take place politically, economically, culturally. We are looking for artists from all around the world who are willing to join the International Coalition of Cultural Workers Against the War in Ukraine, show support for Ukraine, and, most importantly, connect their anti-colonial actionsand experiences with the war that Russia unleashed.
How does the platform work?
We are appealing to art institutions, curators, cultural workers, and any democratic institutions worldwide to use the contents of the platform for practices of resilience.
We know that many institutions would like to join or are already actively joining in supporting Ukraine and condemning the war. Institutions are always looking for new ways to participate and new content to draw attention to the issue. Antiwarcoalition.art platform invites the art institutions to connect to the platform and host quality, moderated content representing the reaction of artists around the world.
How can I join?
You can upload your artwork (it can be audio, video or images) directly on antiwarcoalition.art platform and give your permission to spread and show your works online as well as in cultural institutions and other possible ways of distribution of the platform.
We want our voices to get united and to ring out loud and clear!
This platform was initiated by Ambasada Kultury and a group of Belarusian artists and cultural workers: Anna Chistoserdova, Oxana Gourinovitch, Valentina Kiselyova, Aleksander Komarov, Lena Prents, Antonina Stebur, Maxim Tyminko, who left the country between 1994 and 2021 due to dissent with the political regime. Later two Ukrainian curators Natasha Chychasova and Tatiana Kochubinska joined the team.
Ambasada Kultury is the initiative of Belarusian culture workers and activists with a goal of supporting and developing connections within and outside Belarusian cultural community, promoting cooperation and collaboration of artists and activists from different fields of culture. Based in Vilnius (LT), Berlin (DE)
Antiwarcoalition.art is a part of The European Pavilion, an international programme of the European Cultural Foundation that brings together art and culture initiatives that encourage critical thinking and radical imagination, and fuel bold perspectives on Europe and our common future.
The European Pavilion is developed in collaboration with, and with the support of, Camargo Foundation, Kultura Nova Foundation, and Fondazione CRT. The participating organizations includes: Ambasada Kultury (Lithuania/Belarus), ARNA (Sweden), Brunnenpassage (Austria), INIVA (London), OGR Torino (Italy), State of Concept (Greece), Studio Rizoma (Italy), and L’Internationale (Ljubljana, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, and Poland).
Platform is also supported by The Danish Cultural Institute in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Nasta Zakharevich is a Belarusian freelance journalist who specializes in the topics of feminism, ecology, urbanism and social inequality. She collaborates with Belarusian environmental online media Zeleny Portal (Green Portal), blogs on Radio Svoboda, and writes for mediakritika.by. She covered the protests in Belarus for the EFE news agency, cooperated with the portal tut.by, city magazine Citydog.by, wrote for a news portal delfi.lv, a non-profit newsroom outride.rs and the international journalistic network ijnet.org. Zakharevich is a refugee.
CAMPAIGN TO SUPPORT FELLOW ARTISTS AND CULTURAL ACTORS IN UKRAINE
In times of peace or conflict, culture is an essential part of everyday life and human relations. And in times of war and oppression, the importance of the free voice expands. Artists and cultural actors play an increasingly important role in communicating stories, raising awareness of present social situations, and standing up against injustices. They have been continuously inventing spaces for dialogue between communities and networks, those who stay and those who choose exile. Culture not only keeps people connected but also insists on the humane form of these connections, and we need to stand up for this.
For five years, Konstepidemin has been running STATUS – The Role Of Artists In Changing Society – an exchange project involving independent artists and non-governmental cultural centers from Belarus. Since 2020, the oppression of artists in Belarus pushed many to leave the country. Often, the first place of refuge was Ukraine – a country that opened up and helped the artists, both on personal and institutional levels. Now is the time to support Ukraine, Ukrainian artists, and cultural organizations.
Konstepidemin, together with the STATUS Project, has initiated a project to raise funds to support fellow artists and cultural actors in Ukraine. Belarusian artists and their Swedish colleagues, with whom we have been recently working within the residency program, will present a limited edition of artworks for sale. These artworks will be available for purchase online: at Konstepidemin and artworks.se, and will be on view offline from 23rd of April through the end of May.
All proceedings from this campaign will go to Ukrainian Emergency Art Fund for cultural workers and organizations in Ukraine. The fund is established by (MOCA) Museum of Contemporary Art NGO, in partnership with Zaborona, The Naked Room, and Mystetskyi Arsenal – all of which are independent cultural actors.
Olga Bubich, Axel Karlsson Rixon, Ulyana Nevzorova, Patricia Vane, Johan Wingborg, Yauhen Attsetski, Natalia Katsuba, Ekaterina Lukoshkova, Bazinato, Ilona Huss Walin, Ilona Dergach, Dorna Aslanzadeh and guest appearence from Annika von Hausswolff.