“Visual Code of the Time: Post-Soviet poster art in Belarus”. Finally in Bonn

From August 18 to September 4, 2011 Bonn has witnessed an expression of the Belarusian creative soul. The Artists Forum in Bonn hosted an exhibition of the Belarusian poster art entitled “Visual code of the time: post-Soviet poster art in Belarus”. Bonn was the latest destination of this traveling exhibition in its European tour, which was already enjoyed by the public in a number of other European cities, such as Warsaw, Berlin, Dresden, Trieste, Granarolo, Toulouse, and Brussels.

The event was co-organised by the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Office for a Democratic Belarus (Brussels, Belgium),  Kuenstlerforum (Bonn, Germany), and Freude Joy.
The major focus of the exhibition is post-Soviet poster art, which depicts the transformations in the Belarusian society and mindset in the mid 1980-1990s. The posters presented belong to the collection of the Belarusian Union of Designers. These posters break the stereotypes that poster art of even late Soviet time was purely an instrument of the state propaganda. On the contrary, the artists no longer had to follow only the political mission; the pieces presented in the Artist Forum in Bonn clearly showed that poster art of that time was broadening the outlook of the Belarusian society urging it to reconsider the existing reality of that time.

The exhibition has brought together artists and scientists, generating new perspectives on the topics offered. At the exhibition the works of 18 artists were presented, among them are Uladzimir Tsesler, Siarhei Voichanka, Tatsyana Hardashnikava, Dzmitry Surski, Uladzimir Krukouski, Alena Kitaeva and many others. Familiar symbols of the country’s communist past have evoked memories and generated vivid discussions. The opening of the exhibition was followed by a reception during which the visitors had a chance to address their questions to Dzmitry Surski, the founder of the collection, designer, poster artist and head of the Belarusian Union of Designers. Mr Surski noted that the works presented in the exhibition are part of a larger collection of over 1000 posters dating from the Perestroika era to the present day. Many of these works received critical acclaim and awards in international competition and are now on display in museums and galleries throughout the world.
Valantsin Akudovič Ales Antsipienka

The event attracted the attention of a wide range of visitors, including the representatives of the Belarusian community in Germany. Different perspectives on the displayed works have given rise to different interpretations, opinions, and even new artistic expressions. One German dancer, inspired by the spirit of the presented works of art, offered to prepare a performance for the closing ceremony. The performance corresponded to the theme of the whole exhibition, presenting the mixed bag of the birth of a new independent Belarusian state and Soviet reality. The performance was followed by a discussion entitled “The identity of Belarusians: from the post-Soviet times until today”, in which among others participated such Belarusian scientists as Valantsin Akudovič and Ales Antsipienka.



The ODB would like to express its gratitude to all partner organisations who helped make this project possible, in particular the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Cultural Office in Bonn.