Active art spaces for the presentation of Belarusian and European contemporary art.

Minsk, vulica Kastryčnickaja, 19
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Results 2016, Y Gallery of Contemporary Art

Photo: Maxim Sarychau, personal project Aliaxey Talstou "It Is So Beautiful!"

In 2016 Y Gallery of Contemporary Art showed to the public more that 20 exhibitions, 8 of which - foreign and 9 - representing the interests of young artists. It held more than 200 event of general nature (presentations, lectures, workshops, video screenings, meetings), open two new experimental art spaces "Underground" and "Basement", two big educational projects took place - "Curatorial School" and "10 art-studios". Thanks to the "found spaces", as well as carrying out educational projects in the Y Gallery, lots of new names of young artists appeared.

The most notable part of the gallery's activity this year are the educational projects. The gallery has taken responsibility for starting the processes of Belarus art-field agents development: to create connections between modern culture, society and artistic environment.

Thus, in 2016 the Gallery organized two educational events: "10 art-studios" and "Curatorial School", and continued educational program for art-managers "ArtPlatform".

The goal of "10 art-studios" is to engage viewers interest for self-education in the modern arts sphere and create another segment of professional audience. As an option - to cement the continuity between the young non-professional artists and established artists. To give art interested people the opportunity to directly make friends with artists and collaborate in making an exhibition on artist's main working topic. In the present year this educational project presented workshops made by such artists as: Olga Sazykina, Mikhail Gulin, Alexei Lunev, Maksim Tyminko (Netherlands), Victoria Mitrichenko (Netherlands), Anna Sokolova (Germany) and Oleg Yushko (Germany), Antonina Slobodchikova, Zhanna Gladko, Sergei Shabohin and also specially invited group Bouillon (Georgia). The project involved more than 50 people, whose learning outcomes were presented in presentation projects on the Gallery sites.

The goal of "Curatorial School" - motivate the younger generation of critics and curators, to enhance understanding connection between the art-field agents of the ongoing processes in the sphere of contemporary art of Belarus. To achieve this goal, in cooperation with the Institute of Contemporary Art in Yerevan (Armenia), current curators and critics of international projects were invited: Nazareth Karoyan, Susanna Gilyumiryan, Eva Khachatryan.

It's important to note another education trend that continues to grow through the support of Y Gallery – Workshops for children. This project helps to unlock the creative potential and develop the creative thinking of children through learning various artistic techniques, familiarity with the history of art. With the team and the invited experts, the project in the following year is going to release the first book for children about the Belarusian art of the XX century, about a school in Vitebsk.

Active exhibition activity of the gallery has also risen a question about the need of expanding the exhibition space, which was resolved with the help of the "found" spaces in the gallery building. Thus, in March 2016 due to the project ‘Life around’ of a young artist Zahar Kudin a conceptual art gallery

"Y Undergroud" opened. "Y Underground" gallery is a physical space in the floor of a room or a public space, 80 by 50 cm in size, which can be fitted anywhere in the world with a special feature for the viewer: the viewing direction is from up to the bottom. The present gallery is opposed to the "white cube", conventionality in the necessity of an ideal exhibition space and, in some degree reflects the processes of gentrification.

Also, "Y Basement" space began to work in experimental mode this May. "Y Basement" was conceived as a space without funding, but with an opportunity for artists, researchers and activists of modern art to acquire experience of collaboration with the gallery through providing them with a space for exhibition, research and cultural projects, to get a solid start for further sustainable development in the sphere of contemporary art and culture sphere. Unfortunately, due to some technical troubles with the space, its use in the designated purpose had to be postponed until a more favorable time.

Zahar Kudin, Ales Zhitkevich, Misha Mishuk, Kirill Kolbasnikov, Roman Kaminski - young artists, whose exhibition projects took place in Ў space this year.

The project of a young artist Zahar Kudin, exhibited in the main space of the gallery in May 2016 is the first personal exhibition “Left eye painting”, in which the viewer is invited to explore the work of their own vision instrument and to rethink their own visual experience.

Y Bar became an exhibition space for personal projects of Kirill Kolbasnikov “Love” (February 2016), Misha Mishuk “Klara&Rosa” (March 2016), Alesya Zhitkevich “Khanamati and thunderclounds” (June 2016). In June 2016 “Y Basement” space held a young artist Roman Kaminsky “Singular Invisible Present” exhibition. Particular attention should be paid to a young artist Alexey Tolstov, whose personal project “It is so beautiful!” was exhibited in “Y Basement”, this May, which actualized positions and differences between an individual and a political system. Alexey Tolstov’s distinct civic stance, aimed at improvement and transparency of the processes in the sphere of official cultural structures, concerning budget resource management and their regulation – became a bright example of interaction of importance and understanding of the problems which slow down the development of artistic environment. This state of interdepartmental and civil processes was particularly actualized in this year’s context, which was declared the Year of Culture by the government, with the purpose of uniting intellectual and spiritual forces of the society to meet the challenges of social and economic development of the country, inculcation of love for the Fatherland, and also support for creative initiatives etc.

An important part of the activities of the gallery is to establish international cooperation and exhibit foreign projects. This year's main exhibition space hosted projects of names, known in the global context: Candy Chang, Antje Ehmann and Harun Farocki. The "Confessions" project of an American artist Candy Chang (February, 2016) should be noted as particularly visited: the public was assigned a direct role in shaping the meaning and making of visual component of the exhibition - a written summary of viewers thoughts on an anonymous basis.

Bioethics” project of a Ukranian-German artist Aljoscha was presented in March. The concept of this project was based on the possibility of asking a question about ethic and esthetic side of gene modifications and medical engineering presence in the society.

The project "Labor in a single shot" of Antje Ehmann and Harun Farocki (April 2016) is a result of fruitful collaboration between the Goethe Institute, the Artes Liberalis festival, curator Lena Prents and Y Gallery, allowing Minsk audience to have the opportunity to see the last large-scale work of the director.

A duo from Netherlands Topp&Dubio (June 2016) is also worth noting, whose crisis project “0,00” coincided with the approaching denomination. “QAI/BY” project (June 2016), authored by a polish artist Karol Radishevsky (in collaboration with A. Lunev and S. Shabohin), is a research, archiving and rethinking queer issues in former socialistic countries and beyond their borders.

The result of a traditional open-air eco-friendly, has become an international project "Sounds of nature" and Agro-Cultural Fest (August, 2016), which was attended by artists from Belarus, Lithuania and Armenia. This project raised topical issues of environmental and noise pollution, together with the artistic studies began to practical cooperation between the art community and civil union.

International cooperation is also carried out through imported curatorial projects. "Nothing particular, it's just art ..." exhibition (curated by Monika Szewczyk, September 2016) – is a part of one of the largest collections of modern art in Poland - collection of the gallery "Arsenal" in Bialystok, which contains the most interesting and influential works of Polish artists that have been created since the beginning of the 2000s. 

Y Gallery of Contemporary Art traditionally offers its exhibition space in the framework of the cultural event of the fall "Month of Photography". This fall, the space was given over to a retrospective project of a Belarusian photographer Valery Katsuba "Eight stories" (curator Anna Shpakova).

Exhibition year in the framework of international co-operation was finished with the project "READY! STEADY! GO!" (November 2016) of a Georgian group "Bouillon". Members of the group Natalia Vasadze and Catherine Ketsbaia also were invited as course authors in the educational project "10 Shops", which culminated in a performance - a continuation of the artistic work of Bouillon group "(Religious) Aerobics" (2013).

It is worth noting that the educational projects "10 Shops", "Curatorial School", and exhibition projects of the Dutch duo “Topp&Dubio” and the Georgian group “Bouillon” were supported by the Lithuanian partner Kulturos Ambasada in the framework of the “S.M.A.R.R.R.T.” project.

The final exhibition project was "From dehumanization to assassination: the fate of psychiatric patients in Belarus (1941-1944)", organized by the Center of Public History of European Liberal Arts College in Belarus with the support of the Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" (Germany). The exhibition was a systematization of studies of historians and psychiatrists of Belarus and Germany, curated by Oksana Zhgirovskaya.

Summing up, it is important to capture and estimate the successes of Y Gallery of Contemporary Art. This year, the gallery was awarded the prize in the category "Best Foreign Gallery" at the annual contemporary art fair ARTVILNIUS'16, with the project "Flip Flap Moment". This project was implemented with the support of the Y Art Bureau, namely Alexei Lunev, which is engaged in the commercial development of the gallery.

An important event of the year in terms of partnership for the Y Gallery was supporting the project exhibition “ZBOR”, and particularly its performance in IZOLYATSIA space (Kiev, Ukraine). This project, according to the Austrian magazine ViennaContamporaryMag, entered the TOP-10 exhibitions of contemporary art in central and eastern Europe in April and May 2016, with which we heartily congratulate the curators of the project Andrew Dureyko and Maxim Tyminko!

Covering events of the year, Y Gallery of Contemporary Art thanks all the colleagues, partners, sponsors and the community for effective cooperation and activities aimed at the development of the cultural environment of Minsk and Belarus in 2016, and wishes in the next, 2017, to keep the pace in achieving their goals!

Y Gallery Curator Ilona Dergach