...и вы не бойтесь
...don't be afraid
practice of political utterance
The project was created as a reaction to the events in Russia in the winter of 2021: protests on the streets of Russia to the arrest of the opposition politician Alexei Navalny.
Method: political actionism, participatory practices.
My role: concept, curation and producing.
" do not be afraid ..." - became the project where each of the participants used their personal voice for a political statement.
The need to implement such a project has been brewing in me for a long time. My Russian speaking friends find it difficult to speak on political topics; difficult to formulate their position at any given moment. When asked why, more often their answer is “well, you understand…” I assume that it is fear. Not a positive side of it that helps us to focus and not fall into the abyss when we walk along a difficult mountain route, but a viscous, prolonged feeling that hinders movement and deprives the clarity of thought.
Instead of the practice of utterance, we get the practice of deafness, dumbness and blindness.
Thus arose a project aimed to encourage the habit of political speech. After all, like any other habit, this one needs practice. We need to stop for a moment, make an effort, focus and try to formulate.
I turned to political communities in Telegram, where Russian-speaking people living in Japan gather. Many of them, including me, went to rallies near the Russian Embassy in support of the protesters in Russia. I formulated the essence of the project, participatory practices and invited to participate.
Two photo-actions were held with an interval of two months. Each of the participants was photographed near an anonymous concrete wall at one of Tokyo's central areas wearing a symbolic "protest coat" which was created by Anastasia Hamaguchi, a Tokyo based photographer. And then, in silence, at home, the
participants recorded their personal voice statements and sent them for publication on the project's website.
The members of the group gave feedback throughout the project, and warm, personal relationships were formed between those people.
It was important for me to appeal to people I did not know, so that the participants would come to the project not because of a personal relationship with me, but because of their own need for participation.
30 participants, from 23 to 46 years old, were photographed and published their voices.
A story about the community's protest activities and the project was broadcast in English and Japanese on NHK and BC1 channels. Me and Hanna Ulsawa, a Belarussian political activist and curator, gave a talk about the situation in Russia and Belarus at the Faculty of Political Science as part of the Modern Russia course at the Tokyo branch of Temple University.
The participants of the project became the nucleus of the political activism during the Russian war against Ukraine in 2022.
Calligraphy by Natalia Toropitsina