Nastassia Danilovich, Dzina Danilovich. “Belarusian Wedding: Ceremony, Medium, Song”, 12.09-13.10

Curated by Nastassia Danilovich, Dzina Danilovich

Idea, slideshow montage – Alesia Viktorchyk, Nastassia Danilovich

Photographs – from the collection of the Cabinet of the Traditional Musical Culture of the Belarusian State Academy of Music.

The film “The Radziwiłłs’ Wedding” (script, shooting and editing financing – Regina Gamzovich, cameraman – Alyaksey Glushko, photography – Alfred Mikus, video editing – Dzyanis Kastsyukevich).


The exhibition “Belarusian Wedding: Ceremony, Medium, Song” reflects the desire to show the faces of the people, whose recorded voices or performing skills make the treasury of the audio archive of the Cabinet of the Traditional Musical Culture of the Belarusian State Academy of Music (BSAM).

Wedding became a central theme of the exhibition not by chance. Numerous peoples of the world see a traditional wedding as the most important celebration in a person’s life, in its scope, duration and number of participants incomparable to other festivities. At the same time the traditional wedding is a multicomponent sacred action aimed at assigning new social statuses to its main characters (for a girl – it’s a transition from her parents’ kin to that of the husband’s, for a boy – to the status of a family man).

As a ritual the Belarusian wedding is rooted in ancient slavonic times. Gradually it became combine pagan and Christian components and crystallized its ceremonial minimum – having its own distinctive features in every region.

The wedding song is the main code audio component of the ritual. It accompanies and reflects all the important events of the wedding ceremony, marks and regulates the course of the wedding feast as an important landmark in a person’s life. Wedding melodies, as well as the ritual itself, have regional and local peculiarities and specific geography, being a distinctive sign of belonging to “one’s own party”.

Until recently adult and elderly village women have been preserving wedding songs traditions.  Today, when the traditional wedding as an act regulated in songs and rituals risks to be forgotten, they still continue to maintain this sacred knowledge in their memory.

The photographs presented in the exhibition “Belarusian Wedding: Ceremony, Medium, Song” show the wedding celebration through the portraits of its key organizers – those women who preserve singing and ritual traditions. The portraits of men show the images of village musicians. At the wedding they also played a particular role being responsible for the dancing part of the celebration, all the guests especially loved and looked forward to.

The photos were taken in the 1970-2010s during the musical-ethnographic expeditions organized by the BSAM. The photocollection has more than 1,000 amateur photographs shot in the expeditions by different staff members and students of the Academy.

The exhibition also presents the film “The Radziwiłłs’ Wedding” made in 2017 by the members of the Students’ Ethnographic Society with the script prepared by the visual anthropologist, filmmaker and journalist R. Gamzovich (cameraman – A.Glushko, photography – A.Mikus, video editing – D.Kastsyukevich).

In the exhibition all the photos can also be viewed as a slideshow film where each shot is accompanied with “wedding voices” of those depicted in it, and the whole exposition cycle (portrait + sound) is lined up according to the wedding ritual course and marks its main stages.