Fortress Europe. Eastern Bastion

The term “Fortress Europe” appeared during World War II and was used in the military propaganda of Nazi Germany and allied forces. On the one hand, it was a question of strengthening the borders of the Wehrmacht controlled territory, while on the other- that of the success of air attacks on enemy positions on the continent during additional detrainment in Normandy. Today the term is mostly associated with the immigration policy of the European Union as well as with the system of border control and centres for temporary detention of migrants.

Some of the most important documents signed in the years after the war began are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees (1951). It would seem that some conclusions were made, but unfortunately, these agreements do not lose their relevance today.

According to “Human Constanta” human rights NGO from 1 to 3 thousands of refugees from the North Caucasus, mostly from Chechnya are currently stuck in the Belarusian city of Brest. The city which serves as a border crossing point for migrants on their way to the European Union became in the summer of 2016 an unplanned temporary stop for many families whose applications for asylum in Poland were not accepted. Several hundred refugees board the Brest – Terespol train daily hoping that this time they will not have to go back. However, only 10-15 people out of these hundreds make it to the other side of the border. One of the reasons for that might be the national conservative party “Law and justice” that has recently come to power whose representatives have repeatedly commented on the migration crisis in Brest in line with the right-wing rhetoric.

According to human rights defenders, the plight being faced by refugees has no easy solution. These people have little chance to get into the EU while the return to Chechnya that is subordinate to the authoritarian order is also dangerous. Many families having spent money on dozens of trips with no luck now have no opportunity to rent an apartment and are forced to live at the train station.

The “Fortress Europe. East Bastion» project combines artistic and activist practices. It is the result of collaboration between a group of artists and curators, as well as human right defenders from “Human Constanta”. A series of portraits of Alexander Vasukovich shows the refugees from Chechnya and their life in Brest in their waiting for the right train that has prolonged, their life in a rented apartment or at the railway station. Maxim Sarychau’s video combining activism and video art is basically a documentation of volunteer activity. Aliaxey Talstou examines the statements of Polish officials, refugees and human rights defenders and creates an independent textual material on their basis. The video “Volga” by Aslan Gaisumov (Grozny, Chechnya) which is based on the author’s memories and reflects the emergency escape during the war in Chechnya. Marina Naprushkina’s work from the project “The Refugees’ Library” is another exhibit which is one of a series of the trial sketches on applications for asylum in Germany.


Besides the general overview of the situation in Brest one of the main goals of the project is to attract attention to the probleТам m and contribute to its further solution.

The participating artists: Alexander Vasukovich, Aslan Gaisumov, Marina Naprushkina, Maxim Sarychau and Aliaxey Talstou. The documentation of “Human Constanta” volunteers’ work, their humanitarian and human rights activities will be presented as well.

Curators: Ilona Dergach, Aliaxey Talstou