Maxim Sarychau. Blind Spot
Maxim Sarychau’s work can be described as elaborate and precise, he is meticulous in performing his documentary research. Does this still hold true for «Blind Spot», a project where the author changes his approach and combines different mediums: photography, found graphics and archive materials? The use of multifaceted material, the introduction of anatomical images borrowed from different books and the incorporation of significant objects immediately transcend purely documentary or even photographic scopes.
Rooted in the context of Belarus, an Eastern European country which has been ruled by an authoritarian leader who keeps the line of Soviet traditionalism along with repressive methods of conducting power for more then two decades, Sarychau plays a pretty significant role within the art and photography scene there. His interests lie close to today’s political struggle against oppression, his art provides a detailed image of violent reactions of the government that has inherited and has been using all the methods of BSSR administration and police. These parallels with the past are really important, so the author not only works a lot with archives from other countries in the region, but also pays attention to new technological developments that are implemented in police work, e.g. surveillance and visual data analysis.
In Blind Spot the photography still has a central position, but now there is less certainty in the pictures, even if everything seems to be quite univocal. Sarychau introduces a broader context, which is typical of his photographs, and extends it to the whole project, managing to do so really well. The work is intense and direct. The multilevel compositions show the authoritarianism in its concentrated form.
The topic is unlikely to be seen as new. Sarychau’s connection with the journalistic environment and his engagement in the current politics is obvious. However, one might think that the violence the exhibition deals with is something distant, existing mainly in the hypersensitive minds of artists, critical journalists and human rights activists. The author shows particular violent events while speaking about the everyday reality – the problem of the cult of force and the uncontrolled power is still topical, although it is not the only problem people face today.
The issue of ethics is central in Sarychau’s work. He shows unpleasant and painful examples, and in researching this pain he does not want to overlook torture and death. Through a complex system of references a clearly described scope of suffering and fear is formed. Or maybe it is just a story about them? Indeed, the means and images the author uses seem to bring the epic component into the project, the aesthetics of a legend. The colors and exceptional precision of the angle add the air of mysticism to the entire statement, they appear to be a scenery – a background against which a terrible power with no limits reigns.
The scope of «Blind Spot» is logical, rich but at the same time ambiguous. With today’s rise of populist views, the project appears to be a timely warning, a reminder that the authoritarianism is not yet overcome, a reminder of the sick acceptability of the language of violence as a means to achieve political goals and regulate social relations.
Aliaxey Talstou, curator
Aliaxey Talstou, curator