Collection of essays about artistic statements in Belarusian contemporary art

Alexey Velikjanin:
conceptual actions,
1995 – 1998

ZBOR #13

Actions, objects, texts, photo documentation

Alexey Velikjanin:conceptual actions,1995 – 1998

Stimorol”, 1996


The conceptual art performances that Alexey Velikjanin gave in 1995-1997, commemorate the feeling of parallelity of the existence with the surrounding reality for the whole generation of Belarusian artists. By applying the methods of conceptualism and post-minimalism of 1960s and 1970s, the artist addressed the categories “nothing”, “nothingness”, “death of the art/author”, and developed his own artistic approaches.

In 1995, his first performance “Clean Floor” took place at the art festival In-Formation-95, where the artist, in the spirit of the ‘happening’, simply washed the floor in the Vitebsk art museum. During the exhibition In-Formation-96, he gave another art performance. First, he was examining the exposition and chewing the “Stimorol” gum, and then he stuck his gum between two bars, one made out of the black glass and one made out of transparent glass, and soldered it with tin. By doing this, he launched the process of “bacteriological war”, which became self-sustaining, and keeps going in the present time. The gum was gradually changing color to yellow, green, and then black, and it was also shrinking in size. Today, the object is framed as an icon. The following year, the artist repeated the performance with gum chewing during the opening of the exhibition, but that time he offered to 100 hundred visitors to repeat this experience, treating them with gum, but he himself wasn’t present during this performance.

In the projects that followed, Alexei Velikjanin has always been working without an audience. In 1996, the artist started his series of performances “In white…In black…In silver…Gold…” The performances were conceived as an attempt of adaptation and dissolution of the painter’s body in the environment, akin to a chameleon, and changing his color in accordance with the change of seasons and the time of the day. In 1996, on the exhibition “6+6” in Biała Podlaska, where 6 Polish and 6 Belarusian painters participated, Alexei Velikjanin has exhibited air and earth from the Belarusian Astrašycki Haradok in a 1-liter bottle and in a valise (the installation “Earth and Air”). The next year, a similar exhibition, in the same format “6+6” took place in Sandomierz and the art object presented there by Alexey Velikjanin, were the sneakers in a water-tank that was filled with water. Alexey Velikjanin covered, wearing them, the distance equal to the distance from Sandomierz to Minsk (installation “Silver Age”). The object amplified the topic of the author’s absence, but at the same time it pointed to his “presence”, that had to do with walking the distance to the place of the exhibition.


Alexey Velikjanin (born 1958, Vetluga, Russia) – artist.

Lives and works in Minsk, Belarus.


Text: Alexandr Sarna, Sergey Shabohin, KALEKTAR ©


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