The East, seen through the westernized, colonial perspective is often associated with passivity and its people are identified as peacefully selfless, which is also the reason for their submissiveness to the determined western ideology and any other global or local regimes. This very objectifying notion is widely spread, particularly when describing the borderlands and has for ages served regimes both in the East and West in their struggle to gain influence over countries in Eastern Europe, which usually silenced its specific localness and transit character.
Zofia nierodzińska: Personally, I would like to recognize in this — even if imposed — eastern passivity a possibility of agency, seeing it as an ethical choice, as a withdrawal from violence, capitalism, and generally speaking — patriarchal and anthropocentric attitude, as a sign of resistance.
Aliaxey Talstou: This choice, as you call it, at least in Belarus, may be seen as a consequence of the centuries of wars as well as imperialism of the neighboring countries – Poland and Russia. Such historical conditions – as I see it – created a hybrid, fluid type of identity, in general indifferent to the concepts of ethnic nationalism and national unity, skeptical and rooted in the land, still tied with local tradition but not interested in any political abstractions that aren’t related to daily life.
Zn: Exactly, and this conscious localness could be an alternative to the western paradigm of exploitation, accumulation and domination.
AT: I guess I used to see such relations more as violence and trauma. The latter one brings numbness and acquired inability. Overcoming this sick logic of expansion and domination is only possible after letting go the desire of defining the others. Until then, any insight into their experience is impossible to obtain.
In the third issue of the RTV Magazine we focus on the contemporary art scene in Belarus and Belarusian artists who live abroad. We are going to be guided by the co-editor of this issue: Aliaxey Talstou to Berlin to assemble DIY utopias with Marina Naprushkina at Neue Nachbarschaft // Moabit, to time travel via art in Vienna (interview with Aleksei Borisionok) and back to Minsk in order to look at the hands of the Gazprom art dealers (Vera Kavaleuskaya). At the end we visit Arsenal Gallery in Bialystok and talk with Monika Szewczyk about how to be a curator in the East.
Aleksey Naumchik, “Bartender makes a fire show, Oktyabrskaya Street, July 4, 2015”