Vadzim Zamirouski, 30 August 2020, Minsk
Viyaleta Sauchyts, 16 August 2020, Minsk
Volha Shukaila (TUT.BY), 28 August 2020, Minsk
Belarusians are protesting, fighting for the right to free elections, respecting human rights, for a new government and constitution, for life in a free country. Several dozen people are sent to prisons every day. Repression and arrests also affect artists, journalists and cultural workers. Most cultural events do not take place, and those that are subject to censorship.
Month of Photography in Minsk (MFM) has been organized since 2014. This year, however, it will not be held in Minsk for the first time. For this one time, it will be moved to Łódź. As part of the Month of Photography program, the exhibition “Long Live Belarus!” will be shown. The exhibition is co-organized by the Pilecki Institute in Berlin and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. The exhibition will also be presented at the Pilecki Institute in Berlin.
Long Live Belarus!
In August 2020, Belarusians took to the streets en masse when Alexander Lukashenko, the country’s despotic ruler over the past 27 years, rigged another presidential election. Before that, all of his opponents were imprisoned or were denied the right to register their committees. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the wife of one of the opponents, stood for the election. She had never before participated in political life. Support was provided by the staffs of the remaining arrested opposition activists. According to independent sources, Tsikhanouskaya won the elections with 56.7% of the vote, while official state data gave her only 10%.
Peaceful protests began across the country. In Minsk alone, up to 500,000 people went out to protest every day. Officers of the OMON special forces appeared in the streets, brutally pacifying the assemblies. Several hundred people were arrested every day, beaten, intimidated and humiliated. Despite this, the protests continued, but began to take on new forms. The elderly, students and women went out into the street. Employees of the most important production plants went on strike, actors refused to work, artists showed photos of those being tortured in prisons. Solidarity funds were created for those who lost their jobs as a result of the protests (including policemen who did not want to fight on the other side). Residents of blocks of flats left staircases open so that protestors fleeing the police could hide, they hung water bottles and medical dressings on their door handles. Hundreds of people were arrested and their families stood in front of the arrest all day waiting for any kind of news. These people could always count on warm blankets and tea from volunteers.
All events were continuously documented and shared online immediately thanks to secure communication channels such as Telegram. The revolution is taking place in the streets and in local yards, and one of its tools is the language of art, which is used not only by those who identify as artists. Posters, murals, drawings, performances, flash mobs – all of these different forms document, comment and are a living record of what is happening in the streets and yards.
“Long live Belarus!” is one of the patriotic mottos accompanying this revolution from its outset, as are the white armband and the historical white-red-white flag. But with each month of protests, these symbols grow. They are becoming commonplace in housing estates, with workers, sportsmen and politicians alike. The Belarusian revolution has no leaders, but thousands of heroes.
Vadzim Zamirouski/ TUT.BY
Katerina Gordeeva/ TUT.BY
Nadia Buzhan/ Nasha Niva
Volha Shukaila / TUT.BY
Curators: Marta Szymańska
Exhibition’s coorganizers: Month of Photography in Minsk, Pilecki Institute, Adam Mickiewicz Institute
The opening of the exhibition in Pilecki Institute in Berlin will take place 23.06.2021. More info: https://instytutpileckiego.pl/pl/berlin