- This art project was born in 2011 as a reaction to the moods which dominated among the most socially active part of the society at that time. Belarus, often referred to as “the last dictatorship in Europe”, saw another wave of political repressions after the last presidential elections in December 2010. The spring of 2011 was depressive not only to the oppositional politicians, but also to an average citizen. News pages were telling about new arrests every day. Virtual ban on public protests and any kind of assemblies left the streets of Minsk empty and grey. Weak smiley paper characters with white-red-white symbolics did the impossible - they gathered in the streets of Minsk when real people could not do it.
The project reflects on the state of the society and has the aim to switch the moods: turn fear and greed into inspiration, hopelessness into finding the way out. The artistic method was not a random choice. The watercolors on paper emphasize the sublimity and fragility of the tiny characters.
In practice, we took the paper figures and went to the most recognizable places of Minsk. Minding the policemen, we were placing the paper characters at the squares where big actions of protest and public celebrations had taken place. After that we quickly uploaded the photos to Generation.BY under a positive and provocative title “White, red and white in the streets of Minsk”. It felt like the mood was indeed changed. «Freedom on Paper» has received thousands of positive reviews as well as formal awards and inspired followers both in Belarus and abroad.
The “paper project” was continued to support the musicians who found themselves in the middle of an absurd situation – being unable to perform on stage or TV/radio in their own country. Using some ideological reasoning the anonymous “list of the banned artists” included 57 musicians, playwrights, novelists from Belarus as well as from Europe and the USA. In a couple of days the concerts of famous Belarusian alternative bands (“Liapis Trubetskoj”, N.R.M., Neuro Dubel etc) were cancelled one by one. As opposed to the sad news about the cancelled concerts the Internet spread the news “Banned Musicians Performed at the Biggest Stages of the City”. This time the paper characters – 8 popular musicians – were placed next to the biggest concert halls of Miensk.
An unexpected, but very pleasant, outcome of the project was the appearance of the followers in Belarus and abroad. They print the images and take their own photos of the tiny paper characters in the streets of different European cities. As a result of the strong demand the photos from both episodes were uploaded online in the quality suitable for print for free use by the followers.
The paper characters are now traveling around the world, the have visited different countries in Europe as well as the USA. The photos of the art project “Freedom on Paper” were exhibited in Belarus and in Berlin (summer 2012). They also took part in the touring exposition “Human rights and civil society in Belarus” in the cities of European countries.
“Freedom on Paper” received the Grand Prix award in the nomination “Best Communication Project” as well as the 1st prize in the nomination “Socially significant projects in art and culture” at the festival of Belarusian advertising and communication Ad.nak. A series of photos from the project was also awarded in the nomination “Culture” of the annual photo contest “Belarus Press Photo”.* * *→ Here is an interview about this project on YouTheDesigner.com* * *
- White, red and white in the streets of Minsk
- * * *Banned Musicians Performed at the Biggest Stages
of the City
- * * *backstage
- * * *«Freedom on paper» characters in USA
- * * *The touring exposition “Human rights and civil society in Belarus”in autumn 2011 in the cities of European countries
- * * *A series of photos from the project was also awarded in the nomination “Culture”of the annual photo contest «Belarus Press Photo»
- * * *«Freedom on paper» exhibition opening day in Berlin
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