This exhibition is one of the largest presentation of Belarusian contemporary artists in Warsaw to date. Despite the fact that Belarus is a neighboring country to Poland (as well as to Lithuania – a country where this project was originally presented in 2010), trade and cultural exchange between Poland and Belarus in the last twenty years has been slow, due to the current political situation in Belarus and exceptionally pro-western orientation of goals and perspectives of Poland (the same is true speaking of exchange between Belarus and Lithuania).
Presumably, the official cultural policy of Belarus is not in favour of the development of contemporary art; this could be the reason why artists have difficulties in starting a productive discussion with viewers and critics and becoming part of a broader international art scene. The sociopolitical reality of Belarus also enforces certain limitations and taboos on the local artists and this often results in the use of a rather metaphorical contemporary art language. Despite this, the Belarusian contemporary art community is quite active and searches for ways to realize their creative ambitions and present them in Belarus and other countries.
Opening the Door? Belarusian Art Today presents both artists living and working in Belarus as well as those residing abroad. It is not the first time that both halves of a disconnected art scene are being presented in a united project, but significantly it is being held in the closest proximity to its country of origin. Most of the Belarusian artists living in the West keep in touch with their families and make regular visits home, but seldom have they an opportunity to present their work in Minsk (or Belarus, generally). In this context the Warsaw project, similarly to its first presentation in Vilnius, located in a city within the European Union where Belarusian people can travel with relative ease, becomes a point of meeting, a place of special reunion in a neutral neighborhood territory. It has been proved by an impressive number of visitors in Vilnius’ exhibition as well as the exceptional attention to this show by Belarusian press, which has resulted in active discussions on the identity of Belarusian contemporary art and its’ present situation in the international art scene.
This exhibition attempts to provide Belarusians with a possibility to look at their art from the outsider’s perspective, without common taboos. Most of the works in the project, in one or another way, reflect upon Belarusian society and its concerns today, but only a few dare to openly express things that ‘we don’t talk about’. Potentially the project can open new channels of communication for Belarus’ comparatively isolated and internationally unknown art scene. In other words, the successful realization of it can leave the door slightly ajar.
Opening the Door? Belarusian Art Today is accompanied by a catalogue in English, Russian and Lithuanian with an insert of translated texts into Polish and a series of public events at which Belarusian artists and researchers will present on the broader context of Belarusian contemporary art and culture.
Artists: Anna Chkolnikova, Lena Davidovich, Oxana Gourinovitch, Artur Klinau, Aleksander Komarov, Alexander Korablev, Aleksej Lunev, Marina Naprushkina, Igor Peshehonov, Positive Actions, Igor Savchenko, Sergey Shabohin, Aleksei Shinkarenko, Philippe Tschmyr ir Belarusian Climate, Vladimir Tsesler ir Sergey Voichenko, Maxim Tyminko, Ruslan Vashkevich, Oleg Yushko
curator Kęstutis Kuizinas
co-operation on the part of Zachęta Anna Tomczak
Exhibition produced by: CAC, Vilnius
Exhibition in Warsaw organized by: Zachęta National Gallery of Art
Production of the exhibition in Vilnius supported by: Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)
sponsors of the gallery: PERI, Lidex, Netia
sponsors of the opening ceremony: DeLonghi, Kenwood, Blikle, Ash Tree Estate
media patronage: Gazeta Wyborcza, TOK FM, The Warsaw Voice, Stolica, Art & Business, artinfo.pl