Month of Photography in Minsk-2019. History

“To articulate the past historically does not mean to recognize it “the way it really was”. It means to take control of a memory, as it flashes in a moment of danger.” These words belong to Walter Benjamin who shared his vision in the unfinished article “On the Concept of History” and we use
them as a refrain for the entire “Month of Photography in Minsk-2019” focused on the subject of “history”.
History does not seem to be a complete, finite narrative. Using facts, names and events of the past, it interprets and adds to them based on our present. In this sense, past becomes a battleground where various competing and dominant historical narratives discredit both personal memory and academic historical science itself.
Refusing to interpret history as a non-ideological, objective phenomenon, we asked ourselves the following questions: How are historical narratives constructed and deconstructed? How does procedure of the inclusion/exclusion from history occur? What can an artist and photographer do to enrich the understanding of history?

Searching for answers to these questions, we have identified three directions, which we transformed into three hashtags:
#social_choreography. The term “social choreography” was coined by the American researcher Andrew Hewitt. It shows that our body, as well as discourse, is formed through social, economic, political and urban contexts. Studying historical events through the prism of social choreography, we see the way social order is created, affirmed and consolidated, or how resistance is formed not through words, but through gestures and bodily manifestations. In other words, the body is always at the forefront of any history.

#history_re/deconstruction. The idea of ​​photography as an impartial, objective view was criticized in the early XX century. Emphasizing the contradiction between, on the one hand, the “reality effect” that the image creates, and, on the other hand, the engaged position of the person who makes it, photographers and artists show connections and gaps in historical narratives. Using the collage technique, deliberately staged photography, tearing it out of one context and inserting into another, they problematize the very concept of history.

#gaps_in_history. The fabric of history is not woven as one solid texture, where one event flows smoothly from another. History as a discursive practice is associated with the procedures of rationalization and exclusion. Events that fall out of the narrative or those that represent gaps, inconsistencies in a well-written story, became the main focus of this direction of the research.

All three directions of the exhibition suggest that past needs constant reassembling, aimed not at restoring historical justice, but at liberating our modernity. The exhibition space is related to the topography of Minsk. Passing through the metro station “Lenin Square/Independence Square”, the viewer, according to the suggested navigation, finds oneself in one of the main squares of the city. The square contour is created not only with the help of the open space, but also with thanks to the construction that schematically resembles the House of Government in Minsk. The metaphor of the square was not taken by chance. On the one hand, it refers to the ancient Greek “agora” – the place of public discussions and political decisions. On the other hand, a square is a public space where history is created.