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eng Automatic Translation

Gender aspect in art / gender theory

At all times, the ideas of a modern person about the existing structure of society, the way of life, including from the position of the gender situation, are formed through the prism of art. This means that the field of arts directly affects our understanding of gender and gender diversity.

The gender aspect in art captures, emphasizes, enhances and introduces gender-saturated images and values into the worldview of the spectators. With the help of artistic means, works of art reflect changes in gender relations or form an ideological environment for future changes.

In Belarus, this topic is represented rather poorly. This is due to the strengthening of conservative patriarchal tendencies on the part of the government in the field of gender relations, the female role and the family, as well as a decrease in the importance of critical analysis.

A great contribution to the development of the topic of gender in Belarus was made by the Center for Gender Studies at the European Humanities University in Minsk. The Center for Gender Studies is a community of researchers and activists who see gender studies not only as a field of knowledge, but also as a social catalyst for general change. The Center organized a series of conferences, seminars, trainings and courses; published several books, thematic volumes of magazines, calendars, conducted several research projects. The forced relocation of EHU to Vilnius (2005) did not affect the continuation of the center's activities, including research, education, and activist projects, both in Belarus and Lithuania.

In the nineties in Belarusian art there was a tendency to turn to the theme of spiritual and national revival, which in turn showed the female life scenario, as the role of mother and keeper of traditions. In particular, this is manifested in the use of biblical motifs, images of the Madonna, references to the family, childbearing. Examples of this trend of work: Alesya Marochkina "Mother of God Akhvyar of Charnobyl", "Palesskaya Madonna", Alesya Pushkin "Mother of Susvetu", "Patronka of the Vilenska Region".

At the same time, one can trace the direction of the use of nudity by artists in actions, which seemed to be a sign of progressiveness. The naked body (most often female) was literally a symbol of democracy and freedom, which later began to be criticized for objectification.

In the 2000s Belarusian art underwent an aesthetic and political transformation. Separate exhibition projects appear, the purpose of which is to problematize the existing social order, to think about gender habits, the boundaries of intimacy and the spectrum of sexualities.

In 2005 Minsk hosted a three-day international festival "Gender Route", founded by Irina Solomatina. The purpose of the project was spelled out as "a provocation on the topic of gender: intersexual relations, motherhood - parenthood and their rejection, violence and love, male and female." Within the framework of the event, such Belarusian artists as Olga Sazykina "Letters of Love", Artur Klinov "Tidbits of the World Artistic Heritage", Lyudmila Kalmaeva "Toilets" were exhibited. The "Gender Route" project has worked for more than ten years in the format of a festival, and today, within the framework of the launched book series, it unites the academic and artistic efforts of numerous participants in the "Feminist (art) criticism" project.

In 2012, the Belarusian artist Antonina Slobodchikova in her project "Yano Tut" raises an important issue of the functioning of the image of a woman in popular culture, and also points out that Belarusian artists continue to live in an atmosphere of stereotypes about the impossibility of "female genius" and the secondary importance of "female" topics. The reaction to the artist's exhibition on Internet sites was ambiguous, which indicated the presence of problems in the perception and understanding of contemporary women's art projects. It continued to require a special explanation of its significance for the Belarusian art space.

"ХХУ" and "Fireplace Out" are two demonstration exhibitions that were held in Minsk in 2014. The topics of gender and sexual identity, incorporation or not incorporation into the social context were touched upon. On the Belarusian cultural scene, such events highlight the apparent silence around this kind of issue.

Over the past decades, the world and Belarus have made significant progress in the field of human rights and the promotion of gender equality in regions and countries. Most Belarusians demonstrate modern views, recognizing gender equality in various aspects in society: education, work, family, children, as well as the representation of women in power, management and business. It is impossible not to notice the contribution of the feminist movement and the emergence of open queer theories, which is an important part of the theory of gender diversity.

It is worth noting that in recent years a culture of empathy, acceptance, new ethics and gender diversity has been growing in Belarus, which positively affects the acceptance of gender equality among Belarusians. But cultural and social life is still within the traditional framework of understanding gender variation. The existence of a few existing projects indicates a gradual change in the understanding of intergender relations, however, the belief in gender differences is part of cultural myths and ideologies inherent not only in art history, but also in wider social contexts.