Exhibition "Café Belarus II: Cassandra Complex" at the Japanisches Palais22 August 2023
From 8 September 2023, the Staatliche Ethnografische Sammlungen Sachsen (SES) of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD) will show the exhibition "Café Belarus II: Kassandra Komplex" at the Japanische Palais. The presentation of the Belarusian artist duo 1+1=1, consisting of Antanina Slabodchykava and Mikhail Gulin, is a rapid response to the current political situation in Belarus. The initial "Café Belarus" was first displayed in 2021 as part of the exhibition "Wordless — Falling Silent Loudly" with the purpose of creating a meeting place and discourse venue for exiles and cultural workers from Belarus and all over the world.
The politically active artists Antanina Slabodchikova and Mikhail Gulin have been guests at the Japanisches Palais since October 2022 as part of the Martin Roth Initiative (MRI) fellowship program. Established in 2018, MRI, a joint venture between Goethe-Institut and the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations, (ifa), offers artists who are facing political and social persecution in their home countries asylum and reorientation opportunities for at least 12 months. The program is carried out in collaboration with various cultural and arts organizations.
"Café Belarus II: Kassandra Complex" presents the duo‘s current artistic work, spotlighting the ongoing fight for artistic freedom and thereby highlighting the current socio-political situation in Belarus. In 2020, even before the elections in Belarus, Antanina Slabodchykava designed the pictogram that became the ubiquitous symbol of the independent opponents to Lukashenko’s autocratic regime: a heart combined with a fist and a victory sign.
The Cassandra complex – the psychological effect of ignoring or dismissing negative forecasts – is projected by the artists at the Japanisches Palais onto the political position of Belarus in its geopolitical environment and the question of its international recognition.
Mikhail Gulin: "Since 1994, the country has been known in Europe as the last dictatorship stuck in a period between 'no longer Soviet' and 'not yet European democratic'. Despite the thousands of political prisoners, kidnappings of people and the growing influence of Russia, the EU and neighboring countries usually express to be 'very concerned', but not more. That changed on 24 February 2022.”
In their solo exhibition in Dresden, Slabodchykava and Gulin explore the inner mechanisms of the relationship between myth and politics, which serve an important function in authoritarian and repressive systems. What role does mythology play and how are so-called signs of fate interpreted in terms of power? And what is the significance of a subconsciously traditional belief in the power of the leader as a prophet or heroic figure? Who is actually a hero or heroine in such circumstances?
The exposition features some 26 works, including films, performances, drawings, and installations created after 2020. Moreover, new graphic and multimedia works developed especially for the exhibition at the Japanesisches Palais.
Individual guided tours are available to reporters upon request. Representatives of the press are also cordially invited to the opening on September 7, 2023, at 6 pm. Please register via firstname.lastname@example.org.