Alina Bliumis "Classification Patterns: Christian, Muhammad, Lee" at Ў Gallery, Minsk October 9 - 31. 2019 by Alina Bliumis

Alina Bliumis
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

Image:  Amateur Arsenal Watching at Passport Control ,  A Kalashnikov, an AK-47/Galaxi model assault rifle, bow and arrows (rama inan), East Timor,  2019, pigmented print, 50 x 40 cm

Image: Amateur Arsenal Watching at Passport Control, A Kalashnikov, an AK-47/Galaxi model assault rifle, bow and arrows (rama inan), East Timor, 2019, pigmented print, 50 x 40 cm

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 ControlAmateur Cat Watching at Passport ControlAmateur 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.

For more information and images please contact:

“Ў” Gallery of Contemporary Art
Minsk, vulica Kastryčnickaja, 19
+375 29 366 75 16

Alina Bliumis, « On the Land of Eagles » Galerie Anne de Villepoix, September 14 – October 26, 2019, Opening September 14 by Alina Bliumis

Alina Bliumis
On the land of Eagles
Exhibition : september 14 - october 26, 2019

Image: Alina Bliumis,   Amateur Bird Watching at Passport Control; Secretary Bird, South Africa   2016-2017, Relief etching on paper, 30 x 22 cm, Unique

Image: Alina Bliumis, Amateur Bird Watching at Passport Control; Secretary Bird, South Africa 2016-2017, Relief etching on paper, 30 x 22 cm, Unique

Alina Bliumis’ exhibition, On the Land of Eagles, voyages through global national symbols and identities. The Poems Without Borders series features the world’s tourism slogans in patterned rhymes. Amateur Bird Watching at Passport Control unlocks symbolic imagery from passport covers. The artist traces global territories in the allegorical Maps Unleashed drawings, and portrays national animal symbols in the Nature of Nations series.

“I feel Slovenia, I need Spain, Fiji Me, Cameroon is back.”  Tourism slogans market countries to an expanding industry fueled by low-cost no-frills airlines. Abstract yet suggestive taglines allow foreigners to dream up their own ideas about the countries they want to visit. The series Poems Without Borders (2018-2019) arranges official national tourism slogans of forty-eight nations into sixteen poems. For this exhibition, the text-based piece is placed directly on the wall in one straight line that wraps around the gallery space. 

Tourism and migration are the most significant manifestations of globalization. While economic, political and environmental migrants are routinely blocked at the border, tourists are ceaselessly wooed on various media and advertising platforms. While countries sculpt their national identities to make themselves more appealing to visitors, they use ethnic and cultural definitions to reinforce laws limiting migration.

“Free as a bird” we definitely are not. Yet ironically there are fifty bird symbols incorporated into the coats of arms depicted on the passport covers of forty-three nations. The Amateur Bird Watching at Passport Control series (2016-2017) presents forty-three works on paper. From eagles to doves, from Albania to Tonga, Bliumis studied all existing passport covers – 195 in total -- looking for birds in order to free them from their national context. She traced each bird, true to its source, with a focus on the species’ characteristics. The birds at the intersection of nation and nature include: the famous one-legged pose of a flamingo (Bahamas), a vulture in a gliding flight (Mali), an extinct flightless dodo (Mauritius), a rooster with an axe (Kenya) and a mythological creature that is part woman and part bird known as a Harpy (Liechtenstein).

Birds are not the only animals that nations use to symbolize themselves—a brown bear, a Fennec fox, an Apennine Wolf, a Barbary Macaque, a Marten or a goat are all official national animals. Nature of Nations (2019) is a series of watercolor portraits inspired by official national animals, heraldic design elements, geographical borders, folk fables, and stereotypes. The resulting images portray: A bird of prey, the bald eagle, freed from the USA coat of arms with a halo made of two olive branches is staring at the viewer, its claw is free of arrows. A seductive double-headed rooster of France is flirting with the audience. An outraged bear with wings is a combination of two symbols, the bear of the Soviet Union and the double-headed eagle of contemporary Russia. A goat of Iraq is crowned with a sword-shaped horn.

The series Nations Unleashed (2018-2019) is inspired by the historical tradition of satirical maps, which employ animal symbolism and stereotypes to convey biting political critique and/or to cover up human actions in certain political theaters. The series comprises watercolor and pencil drawings on paper. Delicately toned washes of blue surround loosely sketched landmasses populated by an array of diverse animals, each representing a critical political interest. Bliumis’ interpretations range from the literal – as in the American bald eagle – to the fanciful – as in a two-headed Scandinavian lion. What these maps lack in geographic accuracy is made up in thorough doses of imagination and humor, leaving further interpretation open to the viewer.

All four series in the exhibition investigate the formation of national identity, its historical and geographical roots and its ambitions in global geopolitics. National symbols often reflect national interests, but imagine for a moment if, as the myth goes, the U.S. Congress had conceded to Benjamin Franklin. For instance, he might have chosen the wild turkey as the national bird, instead of the bald eagle. Would the country’s domestic policies and international interests have unfolded differently?

18, RUE DU MOULIN JOLY 75011 PARIS TÉL:0142783224 

Amateur Bird Watching At Passport Control, installation view, Suoja/Shelter festival, Helsinki, Finland June, 2019 by Alina Bliumis

Amateur Bird Watching At Passport Control, 2019, series of 43, digital print on silkpoly, 44 x 54 inches each. Installation view, Suoja/Shelter festival, Helsinki, Finland June, 2019.

Nature of Nations, 2019, watercolor on paper, 22 x 30 inches, 76 x 56 cm each

Cosmopolitics, Comradeship, and the Commons, Suoja/Shelter festival, Helsinki, Finland June 7-9, 2019  curated by Corina L. Apostol, Ksenia Yurkova and Anastasia Vepreva.

Photo © Samra Sabanovich, 2019 © Suoja/ Shelter Festival, 2019;

Cosmopolitics, Comradeship, and the Commons, Suoja/Shelter festival, Helsinki, Finland June 7-9, 2019 by Alina Bliumis


This year the festival will consider some of the most pressing issues of our times under the conceptual umbrella of eco-feminism, queer ecology, environmental philosophy, and ecological resilience. Entitled "Cosmopolitics, Comradeship, and the Commons" the 2019 festival-laboratory will feature diverse works including performance, installation art, poetry, film screenings, as well as discussions, artistic research, and an online publication bringing together artists and cultural practitioners from the Scandinavian countries, the Baltic Region, Eastern Europe, Russia, and beyond. Drawing on Isabelle Stengers' concept of "Cosmopolitics," where diverse stories, perspectives, and practices connect to lay the foundation for new strategies and radical possibilities, the Festival will act as a temporary commons for diverse approaches to the ecological crisis and its economic, social, and cultural affects and effects.

The festival invited artists, activists, educators, musicians, and all cultural producers in the greater Helsinki area and beyond to propose projects at the intersection of deep ecology, climate resilience, environmental philosophy, ecofeminism, and socially engaged practice.

Russian performative and experimental musical collective Techno-Poetry (Roman Osminkin, Anton Komandirov, Marina Shamova); Sweden-based art-collective HAMNEN (artist and filmmaker Klængur Gunnarsson; artist Maria Safronova Wahlström; artist Josef Mellergård; award-winning filmmaker, journalist and writer Johannes Wahlström); ex-academic turned video essayist Natalie Wynn based in the US; artist, activist and filmmaker Oto Hudec based in Slovakia; collaborating Romanian artists Anca Benera and Arnold Estefan; artist and filmmaker Oliver Ressler based in Austria; curator and art critic Raluca Voinea based in Romania; Sami artist, author and journalist Máret Ánne Sara based in Norway; Polish poetic choreographer, performance maker, curator of experiences Valentine Tanz/ Vala Tomasz Foltyn based in Denmark; UK-based art historians and curators Maja and Reuben Fowkes; and Belarusian-American artist Alina Bliumis are amongst this year's participants.

More than 20 participating artists, musicians, curators and theoreticians were selected via an international open call: Anna Sopova and Antanas Jatsinevichys (Russia); Inês Tartaruga Água (Portugal); Ipek Burçak (Turkey); Collective HEXY (Justyna Jakóbowska, Roksana Kularska-Król, Justyna Stopnicka) (Poland); Lea Roth (Germany); Laurene Bois-Mariage (Finland); Maria Veits (Russia/ Israel); Andréa Stanislav (US); Axel Straschnoy (Finland); Vo Ezn (Georgia); Mathilda Franzén (Sweden); Natalia Skobeeva (Russia/ Belgium); Rabota (Marika Krasina & Anton Kryvulia) (Germany/ Belarus); Roman Golovko (Russia); Silvia Amancei and Bogdan Armanu (Romania); Susi Disorder (United Kingdom); Saša Nemec (Slovenia/ Finland); Taisia Korotkova (Russia); Valerii Shevchenko (Russia); Vera Kavaleuskaya (Finland/ Belarus); Verneri Salonen (Finland); zh v yu (Natasha Zhukova, Katya Volkova, Dasha Yurychuk) (Russia).

The festival also presents the Suoja/Shelter Reader, a compilation of educational materials in conversation with the performances, art installations, films, music, and discussions taking place throughout the festival. The Reader has been put together by the festival curator and organizers. The reader also contains a themed glossary of terms.

Suoja/ Shelter is held at the Space for Free Arts under the Auspices of the University of the Arts Helsinki ( UNIARTS). It is supported by the City of Helsinki, the Finnish Cultural Foundation (SKR), and the Arts Promotion Center Finland ( TAIKE). Spanning three full days of programming between June 7-9 at the public shelter turned into the Space For Free Arts/ Vapaan Taiteen Tila in the Sörnäinen neighbourhood of Finland's capital, the festival is free and open to the public. It is curated by Corina L. Apostol, an independent curator and writer based in New York/US and Constanța/Romania, together with artist and curator Ksenia Yurkova (Finland/ Russia) and artist and curator Anastasia Vepreva (Russia).

Opening: June 7, 18.00

Address: Vilhonvuorenkuja 15-16, 00500 Helsinki

Space For Free Arts/ Vapaan Taiteen Tila

Persona grata A collaborative project between the Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration and the MAC VAL / 16 October 2018 - 20 January 2019 by Alina Bliumis


A collaborative project between
the Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration
the MAC VAL– Musée d’art contemporain du Val-de-Marne 

From 16 October 2018 to 20 January 2019 

Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration
16 October 2018 – 20 January 2019
Co-curated by Anne-Laure Flacelière, MAC VAL collection Study and Development Officer and Isabelle Renard, Collections and Exhibitions Director at the Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration

With works by Bertille Bak, Dominique Blais, Alina Bliumis, Jeff Bliumis, Halida Boughriet, Kyungwoo Chun, Philippe Cognée, Pascale Consigny, Hamid Debarrah, Latifa Echakhch, Eléonore False, Claire Fontaine, Laura Henno, Pierre Huyghe, Bertrand Lamarche, Xie Lei, Lahouari Mohammed Bakir, Moataz Nasr, Eva Nielsen, Gina Pane, Laure Prouvost, Enrique Ramirez, Judit Reigl, Anri Sala, Sarkis, Zineb Sedira, Bruno Serralongue, Chiharu Shiota, Société Réaliste, Dan Stockholm, Barthélémy Toguo... 

Welcome ! Festival
6 October – 11 November 2018 
Programming: Stéphane Malfettes 
Under the eyes of philosophers Fabienne Brugère and Guillaume Le Blanc, authors of La fin de l’hospitalité, this two-fold exhibition will be complemented by a cultural programming: Welcome! at the Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration (6 October-11 November 2018) and Attention fragile at the MAC VAL (30 November, 1 and 2 December 2018). 

MAC VAL – Musée d’art contemporain du Val-de-Marne 
16 October 2018 – 24February 2019
Curated by Ingrid Jurzak, MAC VAL Collection Study and Management Officer 

With works by Eduardo Arroyo, Marcos Avila Forero, Bertille Bak, Richard Baquié, Taysir Batniji, Ben, Bruno Boudjelal, Mark Brusse, Pierre Buraglio, Mircea Cantor, Étienne Chambaud, Kyungwoo Chun, Philippe Cognée, Delphine Coindet, Julien Discrit, Thierry Fontaine, Jochen Gerz, Ghazel, Marie-Ange Guilleminot, Mona Hatoum, Éric Hattan, Laura Henno, Emily Jacir, Yeondoo Jung, Bouchra Khalili, Kimsooja, Claude Lévêque, Lahouari Mohammed Bakir, Lucy Orta, Bernard Pagès, Yan Pei-Ming, Cécile Paris, Mathieu Pernot, Jacqueline Salmon, Bruno Serralongue, Esther Shalev-Gerz, Société Réaliste, Djamel Tatah, Barthélémy Toguo, Patrick Tosani, Sabine Weiss... 

Attention fragile 
Festival-Rencontre, 30 November, 1 and 2 December 2018
Programming: Stéphanie Airaud - Thibault Capéran 

The Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration and the MAC VAL- Musée d’art contemporain du Val-de-Marne are collaborating to present a project questioning the notion of hospitality through the prism of contemporary creation. Together, the two institutions- a social museum that value contemporary creation and a contemporary art museum that tackles social issues- are happy to present “Persona grata”, an exhibition organized over the two locations with a rich cultural programming: an occasion for artists to explore all the dimensions of what constitutes or corrodes the notions of hospitality and alterity through their own vision and sensitivity. 

The acceleration of migratory flows and the growing place these issues occupy in the public debate increasingly question the foundations of our societies. On one hand, camps and walls mushroom and confirm the irreversible setback of our hospitality duty, while on the other, citizen involvement grows to help, support and welcome migrants. Is the answer of today’s harsh society to bring emergency assistance rather than implement long-term and effective hospitality policies? 

In this context and from the collections of both museums, this artistic partnership aims at highlighting a contemporary creation that reflects today’s world as well as tackling these issues from the point of view of the many artists who have explored the theme of hospitality over the last years. 

The exhibition will provide a platform for artists to share their analyses, critics and feelings toward national fold, behaviors of rejection and revolt. These artistic testimonies will help us think these questions through and look at ourselves yet without any moralistic judgment. 

Through this unique and engaged partnership project, the Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration and the MAC VAL look to raise awareness, foster reflection and debate, and call our certitudes into question. Although central, the issues related to migratory flows do not cross out other neglected –and little known- forms of hospitality toward helpless and weakened populations. The exhibition will bring forth proposals around community life, care for others, the necessity of nursing homes, public health-care and hospitality centers held in a spirit of attentiveness, kindness and sharing we should rehabilitate. 

Project Statement at Parallel Vienna, September 24-30 by Alina Bliumis

Lassallestraße 1, 1020 Vienna

Press preview: Monday, 24th September. 2018
Opening: Tuesday, 25th September 2018

The fair will run from Wednesday, 26th September-Sunday, 30th September 2018.

I will be showing Most of Us Are 2018 alongside works by Jeff Bliumis and Ivan Novikov, curator Maria Kalinina.

Most Of Us Are, 2018, Ink and graphite pencil on unprimed canvas, 68x58 cm each

Stamatina Gregory
Never Been to Nauru

What is a global citizen? In the absence of a transnationally enforceable set of laws or doctrines on human rights, ecological preservation, or other interests of humanity, what remains is a set of ideas, historical and contemporary, on what this term—global citizenship—could mean. In 2005, the World Values Survey—a global research project providing data on socio-cultural and political change—included for the first time the statement “I see myself as a world citizen,” in its polling of almost 54 countries on subjects including religion, national identity, and well-being. (For the record, most of those polled in 2005 agreed.) Over the past decade (one in which globalization and its discontents have been only recently the subject of major electoral rifts), global citizenship has come to be defined in various ways, including interconnectedness, social and environmental justice, empathy, and cultural understanding.

Although there are now plenty of innovative curricula and inspired mission statements around this idea, there is little consensus on how and why people come to see themselves as shar- ing some wider identity. But one could extrapolate one possible shared idea: on some levels and in some ways, however banal or incidental, we are more alike than different. Regardless of mass educational inequality, we generally agree that the earth is round. Despite our nuanced views on the finer points of the government’s regulation of the free market, or the degree to which extreme wealth is rightfully earned, we mostly agree that capitalism’s effects are evident (the poor get poorer). We have statistically dominant favorite colors and favorite Disney moments.

If some of this sounds like a sappy commercial, that’s no accident. “Most Of Us Are” (2018) takes as its material recent years of both statistic demographic research and global opinion polling—practices that originated after the Depression, when decreased funding for advertising created a demand for more informed knowledge about domestic (and eventually, international) consumer demographics. Bliumis’s work references several of the hundreds of worldwide polls undertaken recently, including regular Bible reading (tracked by Gallup since 1992); acknowl- edgment of climate change (Gallup, 2007); belief that capitalism results in growing inequality (YouGov, 2017); and the belief in extraplanetary life (Glocalities, 2017). In each work on canvas, a global everyperson, metaphorically sketched in broad categorical strokes, is accompanied by the literal sketches of figures, resembling those found in instructional books on life drawing, which present “average” human figures and the basic shapes of their rendering – cubes, triangles, oblongs, long and arced lines. Unique physiognomies, race, disability, and other forms of dif- ference evaporate in these dual portraits, each a simultaneously tender and absurdist poem of statistical appropriation. 

On the one hand, no citizen of the world cobbled together from shared demographic data truly exists. “Most of Us Are #1” makes this point, tongue in cheek, noting “most of us are named Mohammed, last name Lee.” A few Mohammed Lees undoubtedly exist in the world—but clearly under a radically different set of intercultural circumstances than the vast majority of those that share either their surname or first name. (A well-known line from the American TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory, in which a character, angling for a “statistical edge” in his answer to a trivia question about a famous astronaut, shouts the name “Mohammed Lee,” has become a contemporary punchline.) “Most of Us Are” playfully follows this tension, moving between the broad strokes which sketch an imaginary global citizen (at least, an imaginary product of a nar- row set of offered choices, opinions, and affiliations), and a citizen for whom broadly constructed categories of identity may never (or could never) apply.

Whoever a global citizen might be, most of us would agree: freedom of movement is en- demic to their self-perception. (The mere ability to respond to a poll, signaling some degree of enfranchisement, might be another indicator.) What “Most Of Us Are #2” states is true: most of us have “never been to Nauru.” But the tiny state in Oceania is a microcosm for the global forces that shape our opinions and affiliations, as well as our seemingly immutable identifying data. Nauru is like many other parts of the globe in its history of colonization, military base use, ecological devastation due to phosphorous mining, turning the island into a hollow shell rimmed by coconut palms: an invasive species that has wiped out any remaining indigenous flora. With its natural resources depleted, and its one-time economic boom turned to seemingly permanent bust, the Nauruan government instituted liberal banking policies, becoming an easy access point for international money-laundering operations. Most recently, Nauru has entered into the rapidly expanding business of offshore refugee detention, partnering with the Australian government to keep asylum seekers, including children, in conditions of imprisonment lasting years: an indefi- nite “processing” aimed to quell anti-immigrant sentiment. Residents of similar places in the world, in which neither practical national citizenship nor any sense of global affinity are able to exist, are growing.

With this in mind, perhaps the better question is not who is the global citizen, but where is the global citizen? Or rather, where and how does this idea exist? According to a recent poll by GlobeScan, citizens of emerging economies, including China, Peru, and India, are most likely to identify as citizens of the world—more strongly than their sense of belonging to their own country. But, perhaps unsurprisingly among citizens of Germany, the US, and Russia a sense of nationalism has been rising. “Most Of Us Are,” deceptively simple in form, draws the faintest lines of the structures of power that construct our entire subjectivity. In this speculative space, a gentle call, a lyric appeal to look beyond a rapidly encroaching, perilous nativism. 

APERTO RAUM, BERLIN 13 September - 22 October 2018 by Alina Bliumis

Alina Bliumis
Political Animals

Aperto Raum
Sophienstraße 21, 2|3 Sophie-Gips-Höfe
10178 Berlin-Mitte
Opening: 12 September 2018, 6 pm
Exhibition: 13 September - 22 October 2018
Artist Dialogue: 20 September 2018, 7 pm


Aperto Raum is proud to present Political Animals by Alina Bliumis, her first solo exhibition In Germany. The title of the exhibition references Aristotle's term in his Politics. "However, instead of meaning, as Aristotle did, that we build society by practicing good social relations in organized establishments called cities (polis), Bliumis mockingly takes this expression at face value through a comic, yet productive form of literal mistranslation by focusing the use of birds, bears, and so forth, in political theater. Regardless of biology, states divide the world into two types of fictive persons: their citizenry, and everyone else. So as to keep this exclusionary set-up under control we had to invite something bestial, but sadly, something all too human: the police. Although borders are themselves fictive, try to cross one without your identity papers. But really, what is identity anyways? I mean if your documents are expired, does your name do so well? Or perhaps, your height and eye color vanish in a puff of smoke, poof!” - excerpt from Adam Kleinman,  "Plucked," exhibition catalogue

Political Animals presents four series: Amateur Bird Watching at Passport Control, If There Is A Bear, Political Animals and Most Of Us Are. Amateur Bird Watching at Passport Control focuses on the birds that are featured on passport covers from countries around the world. From eagles to doves, from Albania to Tonga, this series explores the intersection of nation and nature.  The series If There Is A Bear is inspired by the TV ad titled The Bear, created by Hal Riney for the 1984 U.S. presidential campaign of Republican candidate Ronald Reagan. This example of the Cold War narrative make us aware that using animal imagery for the purpose of politics is not merely an aesthetic choice, but in fact a political strategy. While Political Animals is blurring the boundaries between the human and the animal, Most of Us Are is a study of the human species based on statistics of the “most typical” person worldwide.

Alina Bliumis, born in Minsk, Belarus, is a New York-based artist. She has exhibited internationally at the First, Second, and Third Moscow Biennales of Contemporary Art (Moscow, Russia), Busan Biennale 2006 (Busan, South Korea), Assab One (Milan, Italy), the Bronx Museum of the Arts (New York, US), Galerie Anne de Villepoix (Paris, France), Centre d’art Contemporain (Meymac, France), The James Gallery, The Graduate Center CUNY (New York, US), Museum of Contemporary Art (Cleveland, US), Museums of Bat Yam (Bat-Yam, Israel), the Jewish Museum (New York, US), the Saatchi Gallery (London, UK) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, UK).  Her works are in various private and public collections, including the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (Russia), Museums of Bat Yam (Israel), the Saatchi Collection (UK), the Harvard Business School (US), the Museum of Immigration History, Paris (France) and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (UK).

Image: Alina Bliumis, Political Animals, 2018, C-print


PUSHKIN HOUSE, LONDON 22 JUNE - 20 AUGUST 2018 by Alina Bliumis

Alina Bliumis, AMATEUR BIRD WATCHING AT PASSPORT CONTROL, curated by Elena Zaytseva

Alina Bliumis, Amateur Bird Watching at Passport Control, Dodo, Mauritius, 2016-2017, Relief etching on Rivers BFK paper, 12 x 9 in / 30 x 22 cm, Unique

Alina Bliumis, Amateur Bird Watching at Passport Control, Dodo, Mauritius, 2016-2017, Relief etching on Rivers BFK paper, 12 x 9 in / 30 x 22 cm, Unique

The graphic series Amateur Bird Watching at Passport Control (2016-17), which lends this show its title, explores the human relationship with freedom and nature. It is built around a paradox, revealed by Bliumis in her study of the passport covers of nations all over the world: that birds, the ultimate symbol of freedom, are used on documents controlling international movement. The Belarus-born New-York based artist Bliumis has worked with the themes of geopolitics, national borders, migration and nature throughout her career that spans more then ten years.  

As old as the Bible, the written document allowing the crossing of borders and offering remote protection has been issued by those in power, those who were able to control the movements of people. The first of such known documents was by the Persian king Artaxerxes who issued a letter to the prophet Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:7-9) for travelling to Judea. Notably, the mission of the prophet was to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Since then humankind has built and crossed walls with the aid of written or printed documents, issued by those entitled to control the movements of people.

Pushkin House in London is holding this exhibition on the second anniversary of the Brexit vote, when on the 23rd June 2016 the British nation by a marginal majority voted to leave the European Union. This result, that came as a shock to both sides, has led to a long period of debate about borders, border control and freedom of movement.

This graphic series focuses on the birds - stamped in metallic gold on passport covers all over the world. Their use in hereditary symbols and coats of arms  evokes a series of attitudes, that Bliumis is tapping into. For example, the dominating use of Roman eagles chosen by the majority of states might reflect on expansionist ambitions or - post-colonial condition. The extinct bird Dodo might warn about ecology as well as doves and birds of paradise could refer to relationship between humans and nature that goes as deep as to the pre-historic times when the nation states did not yet exist.

After examining 193 passport covers from countries around the world, the artist discovered  that 43 countries have bird-related creatures as part of their coat of arms, 50 birds in total. For the series, Bliumis isolated each bird from its national symbolic context and drew it true to the source, with a focus on the species’ characteristics: the famous one-legged pose of a flamingo (Bahamas), a vulture in a gliding flight (Mali), an extinct flightless dodo (Mauritius) and a part woman and part bird mythological creature, Harpy (Liechtenstein). Some birds were easy to identify, some required research using various birding resources. Each bird was drawn on  copper plate, etched and printed in a single copy.

“Alina Bliumis came to the USA from Belarus. One of the persistent topics of her art is a reflection on the processes of accommodation and integration in which everyone with a similar background is unavoidably involved. The tone of this reflection is far from being dictated by personal ressentiment or protest. Rather, her attention is drawn by the absurdities of the processes themselves. Her recent projects “Amateur Bird Watching at the Passport Control” and “Political Animals” deal with the images of animals and birds that serve as symbols for different national states and thus put on the official documents, including passports, of their citizens.”

— Boris Groys

Alina Bliumis is New York-based artist. Alina received her BFA from the School of Visual Art in 1999 and a diploma from the Advanced Course in Visual Arts in Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como, Italy in 2005. 

Alina has exhibited internationally at the First, Second, and Third Moscow Biennales of Contemporary Art (Moscow, Russia), Busan Biennale 2006 (Busan, South Korea), Assab One (Milan, Italy), the Bronx Museum of the Arts (New York, US), Galerie Anne de Villepoix (Paris, France), Centre d’art Contemporain (Meymac, France), The James Gallery, The Graduate Center CUNY (New York, US), Museum of Contemporary Art (Cleveland, US), Museums of Bat Yam (Bat-Yam, Israel), the Jewish Museum (New York, US), the Saatchi Gallery (London, UK) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, UK).

Her works are in various private and public collections, including the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (Russia), Museums of Bat Yam (Israel), the Saatchi Collection (UK), the Harvard Business School (US), the Museum of Immigration History, Paris (France) and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (UK).

Amateur Bird Watching at Passport Control, Album 2016- 2017 is comprised of 43 works, 12x9 inches each, relief etching on paper, unique.                                                    

Please note that due to summer holidays the exhibition hours changed.

Exhibition opened on  22 June - 6 July and 11 - 25 August daily 11.00 am - 5 pm

9 July - 10 August by appointment only, t. 02072699770





March 6 - March 12, 2018
4 Times Square, NYC (Entrance at 140 West 43rd Street) 


Throughout their practice, Alina and Jeff Bliumis engage in an ongoing investigation into foreignness and the ontology of cultural misfits. As exemplified by the title of their first catalogue, Receiving the Stranger, the artists’ work is rooted in the desire to communicate through difference. Using communication as the medium par excellence, their projects raise questions around what constitutes community, what constitutes borders, and how the former are shaped by the latter. Most importantly, the artists acknowledge that language itself can function as a border, as a paradigm of power, and can be used to frame communities. In the words of literary theorist Leo Bersani, language doesn’t merely describe identity but actually produces it.

Cultural Tips for New Americans Under Trump reiterates a project that Alina & Jeff Bliumis first undertook in 2011. In this earlier it- eration, Cultural Tips for New Americans, the artists set out to compile advice that people who consider themselves “real Americans” give to newcomers, to supposedly help them assimilate to their new surroundings. Characterized by a certain lightheartedness and humor, these cultural tips in fact reveal inherent aspects of American society and say more about Americans themselves than the communities to whom they address their advice. Having immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe, Alina and Jeff Bliumis picked up on this American encouragement to “blend in” early on. Now, in the wake of our current political climate, the artists felt an urgency to revisit this project, and gathered additional cultural tips for new Americans living under the Trump presidency using handbooks, public forums, street question- naires, and social media. The collection of tips that resulted from the artists’ inquiry ranges from amusing suggestions (If someone says ‘come over anytime’ don’t take it literally) to harsh realities (Sometimes undocumented immigrants stay undocumented for a long time). Concur- rently, the artists collected ethnic wooden souvenirs, which radiate a certain fetishization of otherness, from all around New York City and sandblasted these objects to remove their original decorations and uncover the wood underneath. The cultural tips are then written onto the wooden souvenirs in ink, causing them to become decontextualized objects, much like the immigrants to whom the cultural tips are addressed.

The wooden sculptures are accompanied by Alina Bliumis’ recent series Most of Us Are and After Total War Comes Total Living. Rooted in the constructivist aesthetic of the 1920’s, these works reinforce the role of language in the construction of identity. Most of Us Are mixes up statistics of the “most typical” people worldwide, resulting in what could be considered portraits of generalized citizens, while After Total War Comes Total Living takes inspiration from the eponymous Cold War poster and brings propaganda rhetoric from the past into the present.

Jeff Bliumis’ series Dreamers is displayed in a separate room across the hall. Painted with oil on canvas, these works might seem to a disengaged viewer to be nothing more than portraits of people in the service industry. In actuality, the paintings capture the immigrant communities of New York City and explore the variety of intricate identities, adding a bodily presence to the cultural tips.

For more information, please contact Ksenia M. Soboleva at: 

September 21-24 2017, viennacontemporary by Alina Bliumis

Alina Bliumis, Amateur Bird Watching at Passport Control, 2016-2017 

Popiashvili Gvaberidze Window Project

21 – 24 September 2017
Marx Halle Vienna
Karl-Farkas-Gasse 19, 1030, Vienna, Austria

Booth E25

Imaginary Gardens

Alina Bliumis, Levan Chelidze, Goga Maglakelidze, Giorgi Qochiashvili

Popiashvili Gvaberidze Window Project is pleased to present New York based Alina Bliumis’s new series of objects along with three Georgian painters: Levan Chelidze, Goga Maglakelidze and Giorgi Qochiashvili at Vienna Contemporary 2017. All works in Imaginary Gardens appear to be part of fantasy landscape created by these artists: Bliumis’s birds are “freed” from the passport covers of different countries, Levan Chelidze’s goat-unicorn has one turquoise eye, Goga Maglakelidze’s palm trees shimmer like mirages and Giorgi Qochiashvili paints invented subtropical vegetation in his large scale paintings.

Alina Bliumis’s series of unique objects titled Amateur Bird Watching at Passport Control focuses on the birds that are featured on passport covers of the countries around the world. From eagles to doves, from Albania to Tonga, these series explore the intersection of nation and nature. Birds are often one part of a national system of hereditary symbols, or a coat of arms, and appear debossed in metallic gold on passport covers. The artist has discovered 50 birds or bird-related creatures on 43 pass- port covers. For the series, Bliumis isolated each bird from its national symbolic context and drew it true to the source, with a focus on the species’ characteristics: the famous one-legged pose of a flamingo (Bahamas), a vulture in a gliding flight (Mali), an extinct flightless dodo (Mauritius) and a part woman and part bird mythological creature, Harpy (Liechtenstein).

Levan Chelidze’s works range from large-scale figurative paintings to small portraits of dogs, goat-unicorns, cows and still lives of flowers on the background of Caucasian killims. Levan Chelidze has received formal art education but the academic training didn’t affect his acute observant eye. There is a certain disarming sensitivity in his paintings that resembles the art of naïve painters.

Goga Maglakelidze was Levan Chelidze’s teacher at the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts. He was a member of Archivarius
group of young avant-garde artists that started showing their works in self-organized apartment exhibitions at the end of the 80s in Tbilisi. Since then his work has gone through many changes, within the last decade Maglakelidze completed several large-scale public commissions – among them the facades of city center square in Mestia, mountainous region of Georgia. Maglakelidze is familiar with orthodox Christian iconography and has painted the interior of mid size church in Imereti, Georgia. The paintings presented at viennacontemporary are done with similar technique as religious icons. Wood panels are prepared with special background and painted with natural pigments depict palm trees and birds of paradise that slightly fade on stucco colored backgrounds.

Giorgi Qochiashvili’s imaginary landscapes are often inhabited with dark skinned people. Born in Gagra, Abkhazia, breakaway region of Georgia, Qochiashvili’s family fled the war in the region soon after his birth. His tropical landscapes are based on his family’s photos and his grandfather’s nostalgia for the lost home in Gagra. As a former Rugby player Qochiashvili has traveled to South Africa and has identified the nature and people of South Africa to his native Abkhazia, which he was never allowed to visit. Qochiashvili’s color scheme is soft and there is always certain mysterious element in his compositions.

For further information and images please contact us at or Popiashvili Gvaberidze Window Project, Shota Rustaveli Avenue 37, Tbilisi, Georgia 

September-December 2016, Solo Show, Popiashvili Gvaberidze Window Project by Alina Bliumis


To be a foreigner — one who is defined as not from here — often means unknowingly breaking rigid social and cultural rules. Definitions of these social and cultural standards often say a lot about the native society. As the proverbial Land of Opportunity, the United States has always had a steady stream of new Americans and "what it means to be an American" is loudly and frequently discussed on national television.

For Cultural Tips For New Americans project, we gathered advice to help recent arrivals assimilate and understand their new home. We took advice from published guides, public forums, streets questionnaires, social websites, and friends.


September-October 2016, Group Show, Fest I Nova 2016, Georgia by Alina Bliumis


The 80's and Now, Georgia is a series of 43 collages from an issue of Amerikamagazine, published in 1983, and the Georgian newspaper, Asaval Dasavali, 2016.

Amerika was a Russian-language magazine published by the United States Department of State during the Cold War for distribution throughout the Soviet Union.  It was intended to inform Soviet citizens about American life and has been described as "polite propaganda".

Asaval Dasavali newspaper is the second largest newspaper in Georgia today, known for its pro-Russian and anti-gay content and as the most aggressive denouncer of all things Western.

The series comments on future memory, the visual language of media, recent history, and the socio-political climate of present-day Georgia.

The 80's and Now, Georgia series was created at ArtVillaGarikula, Georgia and exhibited during Fest I Nova 2016, at American Pavilion, ArtVIlaGarikula, Georgia. *The project has been made possible by ArtVillaGarikula and Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.

July 2016, Solo Show, Bushel by Alina Bliumis


15 July - 5 August 2016

Bushel is pleased to present new work from NYC- and Andes-based artists Alina and Jeff Bliumis. The pair have worked collaboratively since 2000, but this show is built around a single recent series from each artist: Post-News from Alina Bliumis and VIEW FROM BELOW from Jeff Bliumis. Post-News is a series of single-print etchings inspired by the unintentional visual narratives newspaper pages convey and their aftereffects on readers; VIEW FROM BELOW consists of oil paintings of Delaware County residents and workers inspired by the views—both real and imagined—of a patient confined to a hospital bed for an extended period.

June 2015, Lapham's Quarterly by Alina Bliumis


Thank You Paintings Exchange initiates a series of material, social, gestural, intellectual and monetary exchanges between artist and collector. The series of paintings depict scenes of everyday life: a woman sitting on a deserted beach, children playing, cars parked in front of a suburban home, etc. Each painting has the text, Thank You For Your painted on it, completed with words such as Email, Poem, Kiss, Prayers, Dance, Pants, Thoughts. Sometimes a viewer might detect a relationship between the text and the subject of the painting, but there is no deliberate, direct relationship. The painting points toward the value of the painting as an artwork, while the text points toward the exchange the artists propose to initiate with the collector.

June 2015, Group Show, The Saatchi Gallery by Alina Bliumis


26 June - 30 August 2015

Artists: Ahmed Alsoudani, Jordan Baseman, Alina and Jeff Bliumis, Daniel Bragin, Jonny Briggs, Gao Brothers, Gareth Cadwallader, Jodie Carey, David Falconer, Rafael Gómezbarros, Gregory Green, David Herbert, Des Hughes, Gerry Judah, John Kleckner, Terence Koh, Ulrich Lamsfuss, Goshka Macuga, Vikenti Nilin, Halsey Rodman, Aurel Schmidt, Dallas Seitz, Dirk Skreber, Mikhael Subotzky, Denis Tarasov, Andra Ursuta, Francis Upritchard and Little Whitehead

June 2015, Exhibition Review, Artmargins by Alina Bliumis


"Jeff and Alina Bliumis, a pair of New York-based, Russian-speaking artists born in Moldova and Belarus, respectively, also open themselves up to the potentialities of new landscapes in the work that produced an installation of thirty-nine 24 x 24 inch photographs at The James Gallery. For their long-term project A Painting for a Family Dinner (2008-2013), the Bliumis' traveled the world from The Bronx to China stopping in Italy and Israel, looking for hosts who would exchange a home-cooked meal for a small sweetly but primitively rendered painting. Their project, which is the only one in the exhibition that does not directly engage with Russia, is documented through photographs where they stand with their temporarily adoptive families and in a set of limited-edition books that trace the project's steps within each country. Reviving the barter system in the twenty-first century when our transactions have advanced to new currencies, like Bitcoins and devices like Apple Pay, the Bliumis' humble proposition is inspiring, even though its success is not guaranteed in the capitalist system. A Painting for a Family Dinner allows us to see a positive side of communism because it puts into practice the notion of equal and shared property circulating within an international codependent community". Excerpt from Specters of Communism: Contemporary Russian Art, The James Gallery and e-flux, New York