Ales And Julia Shaternik Opened Exhibition"Art Against Dictatorship" In Washington, D.C.

February 12, 2009

On February 12 2009, "Art against dictatorship" exhibition of Belarusan dissidents' art was opened at the headquarters of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. There was also a discussion on the current situation in Belarus with Belarusan Diaspora members, Belarusan artists, representatives of diplomatic missions accredited in Washington , U.S. governmental officials and NGOs' representatives.

During the discussion the participants exchanged their views on the current situation in Belarus. They were discussing latest changes in the country (the so called "liberalization"), European Union's policy towards Belarus, and what American policy towards Belarus should look like under the new administration. The discussion was moderated by Pavol Demes, director of German Marshall Fund's Belarusan program. Belarusan artists Ales' Shaternik and Ales' Marachkin, The Third Way community coordinator Pavel Marozau, human rights activists Irina Krasouskaya and Tatyana Protko, and the archbishop of Belarusan Autocephalous Church Svyataslau were among the participants.

David Swartz, the first U.S. ambassador to Belarus contributed to the discussion as well.

"The policy towards Belarus must be balanced. And if European Union prefers dialogue with Belarusan authorities, the United States of America should continue to hold on to principled, based on values approach under the new administration," Pavel Marozau said.

"Despite of the proclaimed liberalization, situation around Belarusan culture and art hasn't got any better. Number of students studying in Belarusan language is decreasing dramatically. People of culture with critical attitude to what is going on in the country are being forced off the foreground. Current situation is not better than it was in the Soviet Union and it continues to get worse," Ales' Marachkin said.

The number of participants was at least two times bigger than it had been initially planned. More than 70 people attended the meeting, including 13 diplomats, representatives of the Rada of the Belarusan emocratic Republic in Exile, many young Belarusans from USA and Canada.

"Art against Dictatorship" exhibition is a joint project of several Belarusan initiatives of the Diaspora realized under the aegis of the New Belarusan Diaspora of Europe and the United States Congress. The exhibition consists of more then 30 works of Belarusan dissident artists and is intended to be a travelling exhibition.

There are works of Belarusan artists Ales Shaternik, Ales Marachkin,Mikola Kupava ,Henadz Draxzdou, Rigor Batalionak, Yury Platonau, Yanka Romanovitch and Julia Shaternik included in the exhibition.

It had been on display in the Estonian Parliament in the Summer of 2008. Future exhibitions in the U.S., Canada, Scandinavia and other countries are being planned. The organizers of the event are The Third Way community, Belarusan Youth Movement of America, and Belarusan Museum in New York. The exhibition has been made possible by support of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), German Marshall Fund of the United States, Estonian Valgevene Uus Tee NGO, Open Estonia Foundation and other partner organizations.