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Bases

Lesia Pcholka 2022
  • sculpture series
5 stone sculptures with CCTV cameras and tablets

Selected events

Five sculptures reproduce the shapes of the bases of the street lamps along the main thoroughfares of Minsk: Independence Avenue and Victor’s Avenue. It was in these streets where the most important protest marches took place in 2020. The ornamentation on the lamp bases was designed by Nikolai Mikholap, who took inspiration from Słuck sashes. There is a story behind this: In 1937, a group of scholars, art experts and artists were working to establish the first State Gallery of Art in Belarus. Its opening was held in 1939, and its Director, Nikolai Mikholap himself, included in the gallery’s collection Słuck sashes the Radziwiłł family had collected in the town of Nesvizh. In 1941, the collection included 2711 specimens, almost 400 of which were on exhibition. From June 1941 to June 1944, while Minsk was under German occupation, the collection remained in the city. Although Mikholap tried to organise an evacuation of the collection, he failed to move it abroad; everything in it, including the Słuck sashes, was lost. After the liberation, Nikolai Mikholap was accused of embezzling the collection. Dismissed from his post as director, he took up design. He also worked worked with ornamental and landscape design as the head of artistic design in the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Many towns and cities were destroyed and needed rebuilding or even to be rebuilt from scratch. At that time, Mikholap designed ornamentation using the motifs of the never retrieved Słuck sashes for kontush robes and placed it on the bases of street lamps. The lamps were installed in the 1950 and remained in Minsk practically unchanged until 24 June 2017. On that day, one of the lamps was hit by a tank during preparations for a military parade. There were no casualties but the Minsk Directorate of Street Lighting concluded that the life-time of the old lamps had passed and that they should be replaced with plastic ones. The refurbishment was finalised by the end of 2019. In 2020, the thousands of people who took to the streets walked past these new plastic lamps – which became new witnesses to history, and a reflection of our culture and/ or its real absence.