sometimes i hold onto the air *|*- часам я трымаюся за паветра
© Johny Goerend

sometimes i hold onto the air
- часам я трымаюся за паветра

Belarusian Artists in Exile

In 2020, massive civil protests erupted in Belarus, a country between Russia and Poland that was barely on the radar for the West at the time. Directed against the rigged elections and repressive policies of the corrupt head of state, the protests became a cry for freedom and an expression of the desire to live in a democratic nation. Artists and cultural workers were deeply involved in the protests; many were arrested and imprisoned. When released, they fled to Vilnius, Warsaw, Tbilisi, and Berlin to escape further punishment. They had hoped to return soon, but weeks of waiting became months, and months have become years. They have since remained in a state of limbo between two worlds — determined to contribute to change in their homeland while not being physically present and living in a country where their existence is not officially recognised.
sometimes i hold onto the air is an exhibition in which young Belarusian artists in exile reflect on the protests that radically transformed their lives and the years that followed. Their art works deal with the repression in their home country and the fear of constant surveillance that is incessant even in exile. They explore the plight of not belonging and the endless loops of state bureaucracy that they face while abroad. The exhibition seeks to give expression to the personal experience of artists in exile today, which is by no means a uniquely Belarusian issue.
The title of the exhibition is from a poem by Belarusian poet Volha Hapayeva, who is also currently living in exile in Germany. In her essay, Die Verteidigung der Poesie in Zeiten dauernden Exils (In Defence of Poetry in Times of Permanent Exile) she invokes poetry and art as a means for free thought and resistance against the bureaucratic language of states and dictatorial violence.

The exhibition is a cooperative project by Galerie im Körnerpark, Prater Galerie, and the Goethe Institute in Exil.

With poetry by Volha Hapeyeva

Curated by Katharina von Hagenow, Uladzimir Hramovich & Paulina Olszewska

Participating artists


Image for sometimes i hold onto the air *|*- часам я трымаюся за паветра A close-up of many posters; a work by Alexander Adamov, digital print. Image for sometimes i hold onto the air *|*- часам я трымаюся за паветра Close-up of the wall installation by the artist Rozalina Buse, crepe paper, wire. View of embroidered serviettes: a work by Varvara Sudnik, A grey column with plaster casts, CCTV cameras and monitors. View of the room with works by Lesia Pcholka and Alexander Adamov. A colourful poster wall with two monitors: Nadya Sayapina in collaboration with Eugene Buldyk, from the series Mixed-media installation (3 parts); copper pipes, copper nails, copper sheet, aluminium profiles, nuts, threaded rods, ball joints, plywood, concrete, apple tree roots and engraving. Exhibition view: on the left is Antanina Slabodchykava, Three drawings on cardboard by the artist Antanina Slabodchykava, Deatil shot of the video work by Lesia Pcholka in collaboration with Uladzimir Hramovich, video with a passport. Close-up of Vasilisa Palianina's sculpture made of ceramic, glaze and glass beads Opening with speeches by Yolanda Kaddu-Mulindwa ((Gallery Director, Galerie im Körnerpark), Olga Sievers (Project Director, Goethe-Institut in Exile), and Lena Prents (Gallery Director, Parter Galerie). The curators welcome the audience: Katharina von Hagenow, Paulina Olszewska, and Uladzimir Hramovich. Exhibition view at the opening of