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Amazing in-Depth Exhibition of an Artist from Belarus Maria Gvardeitseva Opens in London

Political turbulence, and sometimes a literal danger to life, forces people to migrate and look for new places to live and create. Maria Gvardeitseva, the artist, shapes her auto-exile, painful separation from her Motherland in Migrant’s Altar. Farewell. This exhibition is a dramatic emotional immersion. The presented works of art are very powerful pieces dedicated to self-identification and intimate treasures traveling with Maria in her search for a Home.


London, UK -- (ReleaseWire) -- 01/20/2023 --Maria Gvardeitseva, born in Minsk, Belarus, multi-disciplinary visual artist, and student of MA Art and Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London. Finalist of the national selection to the 59th Venice Biennale for Belarusian Pavilion, 2022. But she was not allowed to represent her Homeland for political reasons. And her last exhibition at the Center for Contemporary Arts in her hometown, Minsk, was canceled ahead of schedule due to a denunciation.

In Roman law, exsilium denoted both voluntary exile and banishment as capital punishment alternatives to death. For centuries the separation from an individual's original context — even formal — has been considered traumatic. Indeed, the relationship with the place where a human is born is a complex part of one's identity. Our homeland is always filled with memories and "firsts": the first perception of the universe we live in, the first language we speak, and the begging of our self-identification. Those memories remain precious throughout our whole existence. We keep them and carry them wherever we go.

In the first part of the installation, Maria Gvardeitseva displays her own "memory box" as two suitcases filled with objects, she took with her while leaving Belarus forever: books by Yanka Kupala, a photo album, the dress her daughter was baptized in — several random objects for others represent Maria's essential life moments. The suitcases are torn into two pieces and disposed of in form of an Altar, as they contain globally unimportant objects that happen to be the artist's personal relics. Maria conceives the altar as a place of worship but also as a refuge, a means of protection.

The central installation is supported by a performative video piece, where Maria melancholically burns her Belarusian passport in the middle of a forest just right next to the Belarusian borders. Suspended transparent canvases with blurry old photos of Minsk printed on them complement the context of the installation, just as our memories from "long-long ago". The exposition continues with a strong piece entitled "Anatomy of citizenship" - an installation of four jars containing different parts of Maria's Belorusian passport. This installation treats the essence of "autonomy", "state" and "agency" in which way they determine her as a person and as an artist. The artist applies the mechanism of separation and dividing used in anatomical research. Maria isolates and studies each element apart to reach the limits of state and national belonging in an individual's identity.

Dr. Buckley, convenor of the MA Art and Politics at Goldsmiths University describing Maria's artistic method notes: "Her work engages with several urgent and recurring themes, focussing especially on issues related to cultural identity and memory. Migrant s Altar, for example, is an impressive and affecting piece of work that deals with self-exile and citizenship from a personal perspective in so doing, it engages with issues that are not only important and urgent at this moment in time, but that offer vital insights into developments in geopolitics, both prior to and since the War in Ukraine".

Opening: 20 January, 17:00-21:00

The exhibition will be open to the public: 21-31 January, 12am - 8pm

Venue: Coningsby Gallery 30 Tottenham Street, London 12am - 8pm, Location
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