Collection of essays about artistic statements in Belarusian contemporary art

Siarhiej Babareka:
found object
“Red Carchitectural Object”,
1997

ZBOR #29

Found object in Gomel, Belarus

Siarhiej Babareka:found object“Red Carchitectural Object”,1997

“Red Carchitectural Object”, 1997, Gomel

 

In the picture “Red Carchitectural Object”, there is a trolley-bus, which is painted and tightly sheathed. It fulfills the function of so-called “bytovka”, or construction trailer, that is used for storing tools and inventory. A bytovka as an accumulation of things is a rather neutral object, but in the Soviet perception sometimes, as in this case, the culture of bytovkas was viewed with hostility due to associations with theft. Such a vivid illustration of the undisguised impiety in the artist’s mind was a reflection of the political processes taking place in the country: a gradual return from democratic values to the old, Soviet order.

This is reflected not only at the iconological level, but also at the formal level: red, which has already become a full-fledged metaphor of the Soviet Union, with the background of the summer foliage repeats the colors of the newly approved in the 1996 referendum flag of Belarus, which replaced the historical white-red-white. Babareka’s work captures the danger inherent in the new flag, implying not only that the history of Belarus dates back to events tightly bound to the Soviet invasion, actually abandoning the earlier historical heritage, and thus proclaims its own statehood almost as possible due to Soviet aggression, but also marks a direct reference to the Soviet republic, diligently repeating the old symbolism. For the author, as well as for many Belarusians, this is the time of losing hope for democratic statehood, beginning to live according to the old rules. So “Red Carchitectural Object” is a material evidence, and a kind of symbol of the fact that the Soviet does not necessarily have to exist de jure in order to act de facto.

In his works, Babareka creates a kind of logic of a threatening object: it is a political shade of red, and it does not function in the usual, natural way, but in some other, deviant. These are the objects of passive participation. The audience can not get into the construction trailer, can not call by the red phone without a dial-up disk –except to wait until it rings itself. At the same time, it won’t ring, the construction trailer stands still, their only action is presence.

“Red Carchitectural Object” combines Babareka’s main techniques – ready-made, objet trouvé and collage as tools in search of a poetics of the banal. Through irony, the artist’s work criticizes ideological and political constructs, censorship, consumerism and capitalism, and the consumer society.

 

Siarhiej Babareka (born 1970, Minsk, Belarus) – artist.

Lives and works in Minsk.

 

Text: Sergey Shabohin, Paulina Vitushchanka, KALEKTAR ©

 

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