A group exhibition with artists from Belarus in artist-run space hoast, Vienna
Curated by Aleksei Borisionok
With a special contribution by Valentin Duduk
Opening Day: February 26 2021
On view: February 27—March 21 2021
Opening hours: Fr 3—6 pm, Sa 12—4 pm
and by appointment
Since August 2020 people in Belarus have revolted against unfair elections, state and police violence. Besides many other forms of protest, strikes at major industries and cultural institutions were one of the most powerful tools of civic unrest. The exhibition “A Secret Museum of the Workers Movement” derives from the failed attempt to visit the real Museum of Trade Union and Workers Movement in Minsk during the ongoing protests and calls for a general strike. The museum, itself, belongs to the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus, a conservative organization that supports the current political regime. At the same time, the independent workers’ movement is still active: workers are joining the strike every day. The committees that organize strikes at the main industrial sites – Belaruskalii, Grodno Azot and others – are strong.
The exhibition imagines the secret museum of the workers movement and presents a fragmented narrative, illustrating workers’ heritage, historical strikes and contemporary forms of labour unrest in Belarus and beyond. It questions how the strikes have been represented through history and how the notion of the strike as a gesture of disruption could be represented at all. Olia Sosnovskaya presents a digital collage based on her visit to the National Library of Belarus. The work speculates on the possibilities of readers striking. In his lithograph work, Uladzimir Hramovich questions how workers’ heritage is destroyed and “decommunised”. Marina Naprushkina collages text from current protest chants with the images of empty industrial spaces onto a sheet of paper from school exercise books. Gleb Amankulov explores spatial metaphors of refusal, blockading and suspension. “A Secret Museum of the Workers Movements” stands in solidarity with the workers’ movements and tries to highlight essential forms of care, labour militancy and histories of different workers’ struggles.
Hoast (Große Sperlgasse 25, 1020 Vienna) is an artist-run space by Wolfgang Obermair and Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair
Kindly supported by Bundesministerium Kunst, Kultur, öffentlicher Dienst und Sport, Stadt Wien and Bezirk Leopoldstadt.