Collection of essays about artistic statements in Belarusian contemporary art

Igor Tishin:
total installation
“Light Partisan Movement”,

ZBOR #16

Total installation involving living characters: private house, painting, photographs, clothes, wallpapers, domestic objects

“Semy Charvyak” gallery, Chrvyakova street 36, Minsk, Belarus

Igor Tishin:total installation“Light Partisan Movement”,1997

Light Partisan Movement”, 1997


Igor Tishin’s Light Partisan Movement project is considered to be canonical for the history of contemporary art in Belarus and a symbol of independent or – as it is called in Belarus – partisan culture. This project made one of the first attempts to rethink the constructed by Soviet ideology figure of the hero and the fighter, “Belarusian partisan” as well as identify the potential of wide range of the hero’s meanings – from the political to the metaphysical and historical. It also aims to deconstruct self-image of “partisan republic” created by the Belarus authorities after World War II and firmly rooted in the conscious of Belarus people by bringing it out of ideological control.

In 1997, the political situation in the country significantly worsened: repression against opposition structures increased, so the hope in hearts of informal artists was vanishing too. In addition, the part of society which supported the state ideology intensified their fascist views. All of this affected the content and aesthetics of Light Partisan Movement project, which Igor Tishin divided into three parts. For the first and the second part (they went on for three days, almost one after the other), he filled an old house in Minsk with a series of photos of “partisans”, who sat back in this house, and a beautiful series of Phallic Frau.

These works and texts have been built into the house to form a total installation and constitute a single project. For that reason the artist has changed the interior and combined the works with various objects (old clothes and household items), as well as painted some fragments of the house and pasted wallpaper clippings from magazines, and even filled the house with living characters. Before the opening of the exhibition Igor Tishin conducted an art action, purposely sawing pieces of painting on plywood picturing naked Frau Zauh (invented character of the exhibition) and put the photo-documentation of that event in the exhibition. The third part of the project was not carried out completely, as the activities of the Soros Foundation that was the organizer of the project has been banned in Belarus, and the artist finished it much later with the picturesque series The Clock Has Stopped. A book Notes in a Colonial-Style. From Notebooks of Pavel Yurevich Broyzentoller, so-called catalogue, was prepared for the first two parts of the project, written in a parody form of former Soviet partisans and underground fighters’ memoirs.

This multimedia project raises a number of topics: art and politics, irony and propaganda, sex and power, totalitarianism and totality, complexes and freedom, mythology and reality, partisan movement and underground, fascism and avant-garde. In fact, the artist constructed a portrait of the Belarusian partisans – inhabitant of the house – from which he could not escape, and probably did not want to. Such an image of a “light partisan” later became a caricature of escapist representatives of Belarusian art in the 1990-2000’s, who gave up the open resistance to arbitrary official cultural policy. And the organized by Artur Klinov pARTisan magazine was a result of the Tishin’s project, remaining the main printed mediator of independent parallel culture for the next decade.

Igor Tishin (born 1958, village Vasilpolie, Homiel region, Belarus) – artist, author.

Lives and works in Brussels, Belgium.


Text: Sergey Shabohin, Tania Arcimović, KALEKTAR ©


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