Sleeping Material | U. Hramovich, G. Amankulov 
potassium permanganate, belarusian ‘dyvan’ (carpets) dimensions variable, 2021  
Object 2 | U.Hramovich, G. Amankulov
leather, wood, metal, photo dimensions variable, 2021

CROP. Collaboration with artist Gleb Amankulov
WAF gallery, Vienna, Austria

A year ago, in September, in the midst of the anti-government post-election uprising in Belarus, we made a trip to the city of Zhodzina with a couple of friends.

Zhodzina, first mentioned as a settlement in 1688 and acquired a city status in 1963, with today’s population of 65 451 people, is a factory city and a prison city. The site of extraction — of earth resources and of the resources of bodies.

The city’s major enterprise, BelAZ, is one of the world‘s largest manufacturers of large dump trucks and mining transport equipment. In August 2020, its workers joined the strikes against the falsified elections and state violence. Another crucial space of Zhodzina is a prison and a detention centre, where, along with Minsk, most of the arrested protestors were confined. Their friends and relatives regularly go to Zhodzina to meet the ones released and to bring parcels to the ones still imprisoned, assisted by the extensive network of volunteers.

When in town, we decided to visit the regional ethnography museum. What struck me in its display, was the speed with which history unfolded and then abruptly stopped. In the two rooms, ancient artefacts were almost immediately followed by documents of the Second World War — the museum’s final point. Meanwhile out- doors, the history has been written, erased, revealed and rewritten again on every surface — protest graffiti covered pavements and walls, readable (or guessed) even when painted over.

Exhibition “CROP” by Uladzimir Hramovich and Gleb Amankulov created through a collaborative process, resembles a strange ethnographic museum. Its display presents a non-linear interrupted narrative, the ar-rangement of objects which seem to refuse to represent the assigned places and functions. Collected from unspecified locations and times, contemporary objects revoke the past, while the origin of seemingly traditional artefacts is uncertain. They refuse the viewers to establish a clear relation, being both familiar and unrecognized. The things revolt, the human figure is absent. Bluestone or copper sulphate and potassium carbonate transform their matter, connecting industry and geological history, regeneration and intoxication.

Not only the function of the object is uncertain — it alters. Through the power of even a slightest gesture ever- yday becomes political. Through the transformation of the matter or its recomposition — like straightening of the scythe — the course of history changes. Straightened scythes first appeared as weapons in the Kościuszko Uprising of 1794 against Russian influence in Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (partially the territory of contemporary Belarus), and were used by scythemen, normally peasants and town dwellers.

Both crop and museum address the time. Their collection marks the past, the end. Today, a year after the events, it is almost painful to look back — at the images, to recall the witnesses. It makes it seem that the events are not happening anymore. Revolting against such a final, we are joining the objects in their refusal of linear time.

Text be olia Sosnovkaya
August, 2021. Vienna, Austria

Sleeping Material | U. Hramovich, G. Amankulov
potassium permanganate, belarusian ‘dyvan’ (carpets) dimensions variable, 2021  

1988 |  U.Hramovich, G. Amankulov
wood, table cloth dimensions variable. 2021

Fire Bird  | U. Hramovich
banner printing, lamp, 150x200 cm. 2021

New Wind | U. Hramovich
scythe, straw hat, lashing strap, dimensions variable. 2021

Photos by Philipp Pess