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eng Automatic Translation

Actionism / art of action

Selected Artwork Series

Selected artworks

As part of activist art (see “Activism”), actionism allows artists to convey specific messages that affect existing reality through artistic means and actions. The emergence and spread of actionism is associated with the desire to find new ways of dialogue with the viewer. An important characteristic feature is the emphasis not on the result of the work, but on the process of creation. This allows you to blur the line between performance as an artist's idea and reality. At the very center of actionism lies the art of action, where the artist has the role of both subject and object of her work. Unpredictability allows you to keep the audience in bewilderment. Action artists in their practice actively use the media for greater publicity.

Socio-political reasons were the catalyst for the development of actionism as a protest art. Artists express their opinion, protesting against, for example, the outdated structure of society, the political regime, and so on. Actionism is inextricably linked to political art and activist strategies.

An important figure of Belarusian activism and actionism, Ales Pushkin, is the author of the already classic action “Gift to the President “For five years of fruitful work!”” (1999). The main element of which was a red wheelbarrow with manure dumped at the entrance to the presidential residence. Another action at the Euroopt store in Krupki is against discrimination against the Belarusian language and Russification. The inspiration was a conflict on the basis of language, in the same store he was refused service in Belarusian.

The Belarusian events of 2020 gave a big impetus to the artistic expression of one's civic position. A distinctive feature of actionism in Belarus was that ordinary citizens began to actively create it. An indicative and one of the most convincing actions is “My Camera”, in which friends and relatives of the detainees took part. Belarusians drew the contour of the 6th local camera on the pavement and fit within the drawn borders. In their hands, the participants were holding posters showing the violence committed in prisons. The art action clearly showed the infinitely cruel conditions in which the detainees were.

On the day of the presidential elections on August 9, the performance artist Aleksey Kuzmich staged a performance “I Believe” at a polling station in Minsk. Arriving and taking the ballot, he went to the booth, from where he came out in a loincloth. On his chest was a bulletin with a red phallic symbol painted on it. There were traces of red paint on his feet and palms. In this form, he stood for half a minute in the pose of a crucifixion and with a bandage over his eyes. He repeated the same action one more time, in the evening of the same day, in front of the line of OMON. About the idea and purpose of his performance, the author says the following: “In this action, I talked about the institution of elections, democracy as a new kind of religious cult.”

The action of the Belarusian artist Yana Shostak, who lives in Poland, caused a public outcry, thereby drawing attention to the political crisis in Belarus. Her performance “A Minute of Scream for Belarus” replaces the well-known symbolic ritual – minutes of silence. The purpose of the performance is to show the state of Belarus with its cry. It also gives a signal that events have taken such a turn that it is no longer possible to remain silent. The action found its continuation for the award, after winning the #PaszportyPolityki contest. The artist came out in a dress with portraits of a thousand political prisoners of Belarus, and ended her performance with a minute of shouting for Belarus, which was supported by the entire audience.

On July 1, 2020, the "Property" action was held at the Art-Belarus Gallery. It was a response to the arrest of 146 gallery exhibits. About 20 cultural figures attached images of paintings to T-shirts and stood all day near the places where these paintings used to hang. The idea of the action belongs to Nadezhda Sayapina.

The project “This Poster May Cause My Detention” by artist Ulyana Nevzorova has become an important not only civic, but also an artistic act. The video quickly spread to the media. The action took place in a subway car, the author was holding a poster with the same text. The reaction of the passenger was important, it was completely different: someone pulled back the poster, someone commented “Shame!”, and at the end of the video, a guy unfamiliar to the artist unfurled a white-red-white flag. This project carries a serious conceptual load, as it was produced at a time when people were detained not only for posters, but also for white sheets of paper on the windows.

Actionism refers to protest art, the request of which is changes in society. By their actions, actionist artists show the level of understanding of the necessary changes in society, representing the public interest. The development of protest art has given artists new space to exhibit their work, new themes, new audiences, and new tools of influence. This, in turn, influenced the development of contemporary Belarusian art, expanding the usual framework.