People of Salt

Metal, aluminum, scythes, pumps, water, potassium permanganate, potassium, found objects

In his artworks Uladzimir Hramovich uses materials that are also used in museums, construction sites, monuments. He asks the question: what if these materials, like concrete, granite, metal, and glass, not only get worse over time but also change history? In People of Salt he creates a fountain with different unusual elements. It is connected to the history of the city of Salihorsk. The city is famous for its salt mines. Some of these objects, like helmets, represent the hard work people do in mines, quarries, and construction sites. Others, like scythes, represent agricultural work in the countryside. Peasants used to fight their masters with scythes. The helmets are now fountains and the scythes are displayed with their blades pointing upwards. Their shape is changed – from the tools of work they became tools of struggle. The objects shown in the artwork are a symbol of workers and peasants fighting for their rights.

The artwork is about two uprisings in Belarus. One happened in 2020 when workers went on strike against state and police violence. Many workers from Salihorsk mines joined the strike. The other happened in 1863 against the Russian Empire's colonial rule. The artist connects these struggles and how they were forgotten over time. The current government in Belarus is removing all memories of anti-colonial struggles, including monuments and texts in school books. Both the uprisings of 1863 and 2020 have failed – but what does the failure represent? How can we remember it and make use of it in the present moment?

The work from The Biennale Matter of Art. Prague, Czech Republic

Curator: Aleksei Borisionok, Katalin Erdődi



Photo credits: Jonáš Verešpej