Classification Patterns: Christian, Muhammad, Lee
Curated by Irena Popiashvili
October 9 – October 31, 2019
Opening: Wednesday, October 9, 19:00
“Ў” Gallery of Contemporary Art
Minsk, vulica Kastryčnickaja, 19
The “Ў” gallery of contemporary art is pleased to present a solo-exhibition by the Belarus-born artist, Alina Bliumis. The artist was born in Minsk, but she received her education in New York and has exhibited extensively in the US and in Europe. This is Bliumis’ first solo exhibition in her native Belarus.
The title of the exhibition refers to the artist’s 2018-2019 text-based series Most of Us Are. This 14 part work describes how “most of us” are born, believe, worship, don’t eat, consume, own, lose, dream, and spend our lives. Bliumis used statistics, demographic research and opinion poll data to define the main characteristics of a global citizen, and then construct a verbal portrait of “the most typical person.” Statistically, it is correct that “most of us are named Muhammad, last name Lee.” But as Stamatina Gregory noted in her text on Bliumis’s work (Political Animals, Aperto Raum, Berlin, 2018), “no citizen of the world cobbled together from shared demographic data truly exists.” And Bliumis’ statistic-based text portraits are anything but typical. Classifying, researching, collecting and creating new patterns of order is essential to the artist.
To create the series entitled Amateur Watching at Passport Control, the artist studied all 195 passports currently in circulation worldwide. She dissected the symbolism of the coats of arms featured on the covers, and identified four major categories: plants and trees, birds, big cats and weapons. From Lebanon’s cedar to Mauritius’ dodo, to Georgia’s lions and East Timor’s AK 47, the four works in the series, Amateur Bird Watching at Passport Control, Amateur Cat Watching at Passport Control, Amateur Flora Watching at Passport Control and Amateur Arsenal Watching at Passport Control(2016-2019), bring to life this curious intersection between nationalism and nature.
The exhibition also includes the works: My Soviet Childhood, He and My Soviet Childhood, She,2018. Bliumis created them together with her long time collaborator, Jeff Bliumis. The diptych comprises a collection of postcards of Soviet movie stars from the late 1960s through to the 1980s that he built up during his childhood. The artist says “the series is dedicated to all Soviet-era children who collected stamps, postcards, pins, cigarette and match boxes, soda bottles, candy wraps, juice box stickers” during that time. There is an implied association between identifying the symbols on modern passport covers and the curious eye that encouraged the collection of Soviet movie star postcards. Having past experience of this common childhood pleasure, of creating and curating collections of day-to-day objects, is essential in understanding both Most of Us Are and Amateur Watching at Passport Control series.
In My Soviet Childhood, He and She, the artists are trying to create a portrait of the most typical Soviet-era movie star. But there is a reverse process underway in Amateur Watching at Passport Control. Alina Bliumis is grasping the bigger picture of different coats of arms and dissecting them into their visual parts.
Concurrent to this exhibition, Alina Bliumis has a solo show at Anne De Villepoix gallery in Paris. Most recently Alina Bliumis has exhibited at The James Gallery, The Graduate Center CUNY (New York, USA), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Cleveland, USA) and the Jewish Museum (New York, USA) among others. Her works are in various private and public collections, including MAC VAL - Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, France; Musée National de l’Histoire de l’Immigration, Paris, France; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK; Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Russia; Bat Yam Museum for Contemporary Art, Israel; The Saatchi Collection, UK; The Harvard Business School, USA; The National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, USA and the Missoni Collection, Italy.
Alina Bliumis was born in Minsk and lives in NYC. She graduated from Art College named after I. V. Akhremchik, Minsk in 1989, received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1999 and a diploma from the Advanced Course in Visual Arts in Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como, Italy in 2005.
The exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the Trust for Mutual Understanding and the Franklin Furnace, NY.