Best of 2020. Highlights of the Year
2020 wasn't easy for all of us, but it’s (fortunately) over. We decided to recall all the good things that happened to us in 2020 – and it turned out to be a lot. We’ve collected the top inspirational things that define 2020 in Minsk.
THE MARCH OF LIBERTY
Belarusians have been protesting on the streets of their cities against election fraud and violence by security officials for more than four months in a row. Belarusians will not be able to forget the nights of August 9-11, when the city almost turned into a field of military action against peaceful and unarmed protesters, and the detention center on Akrescina Street became a concentration camp. On August 16, there took place a huge inspiring march, which brought together hundreds of thousands of beautiful and proud Minskers. It was like an open-air festival. On this day we were free and it seemed that the victory was already very close.
by Chaim Soutine
A painting from the collection of the Art Belarus gallery, which was brought to Minsk thanks to ex-presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka. When Babaryka was detained, the gallery's paintings were also arrested (yes, it sounds weird). That’s when the masterpiece by Chaim Soutine (who was born and raised in Belarus) became one of the iconic symbols of the protest. Eva was printed on T-shirts and postcards, she was brought to marches as a poster, and artists created their own versions of the famous painting. We hope that in 2021, Eva will return to her rightful place in the gallery and we will be able to see her again.
In the photo: Maria Kalesnikava (who represents the headquarters of the unregistered candidate Babaryka), presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanoŭskaja and
Veranika Tsapkala (who represents the headquarters of the unregistered candidate Tsapkala). With this photo, the headquarters announced that they were joining forces in the election race – and this gave everyone a new wave of hope.
Mutual help, support and self-organization are the hashtags of the Belarusian society in 2020. The wave of solidarity began long before the August events: already in March, when the government took the position of COVID dissidence, Belarusians created funds to help doctors, collected money for personal protective equipment and delivered them to hospitals. And after the elections, all this went to a new level: there appeared volunteer camps to help detainees, funds of solidarity with the repressed and the strikers, which raised millions of dollars, and many other projects that are working to achieve a common goal.
Neighborhood communities are a new phenomenon that appeared in Minsk this year. People began to gather in their courtyards, organize concerts, lectures and football matches, create regional flags, and march proudly around their districts.
(& all the Belarusian women)
The Belarusian protest has a woman's face: just look at the triumvirate of Tsikhanoŭskaja, Kalesnikava and Tsapkala, women in white, Eva and, of course, Nina Bahinskaja, a 74-year-old activist who fought for our freedom long before the events of 2020. This brave woman, who appears at all protest actions with a handmade white-red-white flag, has become an icon of protest and has inspired thousands of Belarusians.
Ў Gallery has always been a very important place for Minsk. Several years ago it began to introduce the city to contemporary art and provided a platform for young local artists. In the spring, the gallery became the headquarters of volunteers who helped doctors, then one of the founders, Alexander Vasilevič, was detained and recognized as a political prisoner, and a few months ago the gallery had to close its doors. We will remember this place as one of the main cultural points on the map of Minsk.
Photo by Pavel Krichko
In 2020, journalists were detained, faced administrative arrests and were made suspects in criminal cases – just because they were doing their job. Media lost accreditations, and the Internet was turned off throughout the country for several days. In the face of constant pressure, Belarusian journalists and photographers still promptly covered all the events.
An event that is not associated with the protest movement, but it is very important for our culture. UNOVIS is an avant-garde art group which was created in Viciebsk by Kazimir Malevič in 1920 and engaged in a radical transformation of the art of that time. The group existed for only a few years, but it became a whole stage in the history of the world avant-garde.
Photos: palasatka, flejtmotiv, pkrichko, Maria Gulina