“Academy of Arts,
Academy of Life”,
Urban intervention, installation 800x400x200 cm, mixed technique
Carried out as part of the exhibition Text, Belarusian Academy of Arts, Minsk, Belarus
Andrei Dureika’s art intervention in the yard of the Belarusian Academy of Arts in Minsk is an example of institutional critique in Belarusian contemporary art – a document/symbol of the “purging” process not only in academic circles, but also in the Belarusian culture of the 1990s as a whole.
In the early 90s in Minsk, a number of young artists emerged, focused on the current trends in art. Students were eager to experiment, trying to resist the established academic dogma, addressing current issues of art. However, the board of the Academy of Arts took this as a threat, declaring war to these manifestations. Within a few years, several dozen students were excluded from the Academy and other art schools. The key event of this conflict was the legendary exhibition Lessons in Bad Art (01.-15.12.1992), organised by the Belarusian artist Igor Tishyn (then professor of the Minsk Glebov Art School), which exhibited works by the excluded students. Andrei Dureika, who participated in it while still being student in the Academy, was expelled on the opening day, as a member and coordinator of the exhibition.
The following decade, with the advent of Alexander Lukashenko, saw worsening conditions in other spheres of the artistic life of Minsk as well. Gradually, non-state art institutions started closing down, while the dominance of the political context determined the overall grave condition of culture.
Installation “Academy of Arts, Academy of Life” was created for the exhibition Texts at the Museum of the Academy of Arts. Andrei Dureika took part in the exhibition without official approval and prepared a conceptual intervention in the Academy’s backyard. The work represented a text “Academy of Arts, Academy of Life”: Academy of Arts was written on the wall of the Academy’s building, while Academy of Life adorned the trash bins in front of it. This kind of action is an example of a consciously constructed artistic and social clash, calling on traditions of critical statement – on the one hand, Сézanne’s “art parallel to nature”, and on the other Beuys’s “social sculpture” – within the context of the repressive cultural policy of Belarus.
The work became iconic in Belarusian contemporary art and a landmark for the artist, whose method of contextual integration of text in the public and exhibition spaces remains characteristic of his work today.
Andrei Dureika (born 1971, Grodno, Belarus) – artist, author of lectures on German and Belarusian contemporary art. Chronicles the contemporary Belarusian art abroad for pARTisan almanac. Collects an archive of contemporary Belarusian art.
Lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Text: Kristina Stashkevich, Sergey Shabohin, KALEKTAR ©
This is a shortened version of the text. Full article is under construction.
Mural “Weissrussland”, 2010