“Zmagary” is a word often used by the propaganda of the regime of Alexander Lukashenko to refer to representatives of the democratic opposition in Belarus. This accusation is often directed against cultural activists or human rights defenders.

The work examines the social consequences of state terror against civil society. After the peaceful mass protests against the rigged presidential elections in August 2020, hundreds of thousands of people in Belarus were repressed, detained, beaten, arrested and charged with crimes. There are no official figures on the people who have sought refuge in neighboring countries, but it is estimated that Poland has issued over 150,000 different visas to people who were forced to leave Belarus.

I started my research in Poland to find out more about the repressive methods of the dictatorial regime. I met with many refugees who left Belarus after August 2020, including police officers, former military, students, workers, teachers, activists, former ministers of culture (and others), and conducted audio and video interviews. They describe what happened in Belarus in August and reveal the terrorist rituals of the dictatorial regime. Methodical rituals that require its repetitions to maintain the apparatus of power. The project aims to highlight an important and difficult time, when Belarusian society is on the threshold of great changes, and to raise awareness about the situation in Belarus.

In my artwork I refer to a press photo by Yerchak Yauhen, which was extensively published in the European press in September 2020, during the second month of peaceful mass protests in Minsk. I approached local folk artists in Poland with the photo and asked them to re-create the motif as a wooden bas-relief, which is similar to the craft techniques of applied arts supported by the Lukashenko regime. The wooden relief was to be made by a Belarusian artist, but due to the political situation it was not possible to realize that intervention. The sculpture was carved by Zdzislaw Gotfryd, a Polish folk sculptor. Iit stands on a pewter pedestal made of melted souvenir figures—toy soldiers made of pewter—with the face of Alexander Lukashenko. The process of creating the pedestal is shown in the second video channel.


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Thanks to:
Fundacja Białoruś 2020

interviewes : Anna, Danil, Alesna, Kati, Lena, Wassilij & Family, Pawel Latushka, Anna, Maria, Jan, Ala
Monika Szewczyk; Susanne Kriemann; Anna Karpenko