Architects: Radical Passive
Location: Minsk, Belarus
In spring 2020, the gallery of contemporary art “Ў” opened its doors not for visitors, but for volunteers from the BYCOVID19 team.
BYCOVID19, an independent initiative, provided hospitals around the country with personal protection equipment (PPE), medicines, medical equipment, and food, as the government did not initially recognize the pandemic as a crisis.
The BYCOVID19 initiative has since been shut down and the accounts of the foundation, where locals sent aid, have been seized. The owner of the gallery has been detained, and the gallery is hosting its last exhibition, Touching Distance.
The exhibition design is based on the structure of the BYCOVID19 storage facility. The space has been broken down into zones with personal protective equipment. The walls are covered with signs like “respirator petal,” “disposable masks,” “ffp3 masks,” etc. Distribution zones have been demarcated using red tape on the floor. The corridor, the central part of the exhibition, ends with the portraits of BYCOVID19 team members.
The partitions in the exhibit are transparent, making objects behind them blurry yet semi-visible. The inability to touch the objects through the partitions creates a “touching distance.”
The majority of artists created their works during the quarantine. The structure of the exhibition separates the works from each other to let visitors perceive them separately. The main passage is a simple and strong metaphor of emptiness and absence.
Photographs by Elizabeth Kolenenok