“Touchable distance” Exhibition design

The unequivocal times we’re currently facing have entailed an abrupt change in the ways we interact with each other, and our perception of the surrounding world. 

This shift in our form of communication has not only led to societal frustration, but also pushed us to rethink familiar concepts. Daily life and human behavior have significantly changed with a sense of increased fear and anxiety. Breaking away from our physical connections, in the most basic sense, we are forced to seek interaction online. To remain visible while maintaining social isolation, access to the online world has become an enormous necessity.

«These strange times» helps us to slow down and think about what we really need the most: love and intimacy. It seeks to highlight the importance of tactile sensations and the feeling of warmth. Physical presence is the core of our communication with loved ones. The yearning of mutual support and assistance. Simply put, basic human needs.

In the beginning of the last spring the government of Belarus denied the existence of COVID19. Doctors and patients would be subjected to the danger of pandemia one on one, if not for Belarusian people. 

That spring “Y” Gallery of Contemporary Art opened its doors not for visitors, but for the team of young volunteers called BYCOVID19. Their independent initiative made it possible to supply hospitals across the whole country with personal protective equipment, medications and food. The gallery was used as an office for volunteers and a storage for the supplies and equipment. The initiative was  shut down as many others in Belarus after the tragic events after elections. Their accounts were arrested. The owner of the gallery has been apprehended by the State Security Committee and stays in prison. His gallery ran the last exhibition.

The first exhibition after recent events is devoted to the feeling of isolation. We have all been forced into a new format of interaction with reality and each other. This format has led to the frustration and rethinking of familiar concepts, increased fears and anxieties, and complete change in life and behavior. Breaking our usual tactile connections made us access the network constantly, and all the “touching” connections turned online. To survive, it became necessary to maintain social distance as to be isolated, but still remain visible and sustain contacts.

The exhibit design is based on the trails of BYCOVID19 storage structure. The whole space was broken down into zones with personal protective equipment. The walls were covered with signs like “respirator petal”, “disposable masks”, “ffp3 masks” etc. Red stripes of duct tape broke down the floor into different zones with personal protective equipment. The new exhibition preserves the memory of recent events, keeps and interprets their elements.

Completion Year: November 2020
Gross Built Area: 300 sq meters
Project location: “Y” Gallery of Contemporary Art, Minsk, Belarus
Photo credits: Lizaveta Kulenenok