Vilnius Museum Offers a Glimpse into Dramatic Moments of the Belarus Protests

Support for Belarusians fighting for freedom – photos of five Belarusian photojournalists are projected on the MO Museum building in Vilnius. The photographs record both the brutal suppression of demonstrations and the women’s chains of solidarity holding flowers in their hands. The outdoor projection “The Future of Belarus, Fueled by Women” reflects the female view of Belarusian photojournalism covering women’s protests.

It’s a sad coincidence that the exhibition by Belarusian photojournalists was launched the same day (February 18) when two Belarusian journalists have been sentenced to two years in prison after filming live coverage of last November’s protests against President Alexander Lukashenko.

Supporting the freedom of neighbours

“A few days ago, we Lithuanians celebrated the day of the restoration of our state, we celebrated freedom, we remembered the difficult path we had to follow. Belarus has chosen to follow this difficult path to freedom too. Vilnius is always open to bold ideas, creativity, freedom of expression for Vilnius residents and guests, but it has also become a safe asylum for our Belarusian neighbours”, says Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius.

It is to Belarusian women that this exhibition is dedicated. There was one common cause for all of us – to restore freedom and law in Belarus, and women stood in the front lines of this struggle. For many women, this struggle became personal. It is personal for Alena Bandarenka, who demands the investigation of her son's murder. It is personal for Volha Seviaryniec and Darya Losik whose husbands are in prison since early summer. It is personal for Tatsiana Khomich, whose sister Marya Kalesnikava was kidnapped for challenging the dictator. It is also personal for me”, says Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the leader of the Belarusian opposition.

S. Tikhanovskaya also adds: “The regime cronies did not understand that they made the political struggle personal for every Belarusian family. It might be possible to pressure the opposition, but it is impossible to overcome the entire nation”.

“By exhibiting the outdoor projection “The Future of Belarus, Fueled by Women”, we express our support and solidarity. In addition, this exhibition is also relevant to us Lithuanians. Photographs by Belarusian photojournalists will be exhibited between two important dates for our state, its freedom and independence – February 16th and March 11th. The confrontation of peaceful protest with brutal force is also reminiscent of our struggles for freedom. We invite to see the photos where the protests take place and the revolutions are born – outdoors”, says Milda Ivanauskienė, director of MO Museum.

M. Ivanauskienė adds: “In this context, it is important to pay attention to the significant participation of women in state-building. This is also relevant for us, mentioning the 1918 February 17 protest demanding the inclusion of women in the Council of Lithuania”.

You can watch the launch of the exhibition here.


The most important moments of the protests in Belarus have been carefully captured

The exhibition “The Future of Belarus, Fueled by Women” reflects the female view of Belarusian photojournalism covering women’s protests, the contrast between peaceful confrontation and the overt violence unleashed by authorities.  Women have become the symbol of such protests in Belarus, fighting courageously against the patriarchal government. 

Five Belarusian photographers – Nadia Buzhan, Darya Burakina, Iryna Arakhouskaya, Volha Shukaila, and Viyaleta Sauchyts – understood the importance of the historic moment and carefully documented all of the most important events of the 2020 protests against election fraud and the subsequent violence committed by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko throughout Belarus. The so-called women's marches steered the protests onto a peaceful course and shaped the agenda of the Belarusian revolution. It became a nonviolent resistance – a modern form of protest in 21st century Belarus.

Five young photojournalists had to overcome their fear and take risks every time. So that now everyone could see the captured protests in their photos testifying what’s happening in Belarus.

Video stories by the photographers in their own words on what it meant to capture protests:

Darya Burakina:

Iryna Arakhouskaya:

Nadia Buzhan: 

Volha Shukaila:

Viyaleta Sauchyts:

Photographs capturing images of protests in Belarus are shown in cooperation with the Art Center in Estonia “Fotografiska Tallinn” and the platform representing Belarusian photojournalists “Shklo”. The photographs are shown for the first time in Lithuania. Before that, they were exhibited in Estonia.

The best time to see the projection outdoors – at dusk

Photographs are projected on the wall of the MO Museum building and are best seen at dusk, 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm. The exhibition will last till March 4th.

“This outdoor projection will be another opportunity to safely enrich the reality of quarantine with artistic projects and culture. Without gathering, quietly, in the evenings outside everyone will be able to see all the photographs. At the same time, it will be an opportunity to rethink freedom and its meaning. In many ways – both from the perspective of the state and the nation and personally”, adds the director of MO Museum.

Outdoor projection “The Future of Belarus, Fueled by Women” is supported by the Lithuanian World Arts Council, Kazickai Family Foundation and Vilnius City Municipality.

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