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“the REM sleep” | outdoor exhibition of photography

When: 5-15 October 2021
Where: Łokietka Square
Free admission

Opening: 5 October, 13.00 
Where: Łokietka Square 

The exhibtion is one of the events accomnpanying  the Cross-Border Cooperation Congress Lublin 2021

Zmicer Waynowski’s project “the REM sleep” is a photographic record and a testimony of the tragic and inspiring events unfolding in contemporary Belarus. It’s also an examination of the paradoxical phenomenon of non-violent protests of the Belarusian people. The Protest becomes the main form of art, and the Street – the country’s main artistic platform. Reflection, thinking, and artistic statements come later. Here and now, we are first of all participants, documentarians, and curators.  Like Josef Koudelka during the documentation of The Prague Spring of 1968, Waynowski got “too close” to the depicted events. However, despite unprecedented pressure exerted by the regime on independent and foreign journalists and every person with a camera, he succeeded in capturing and recording all main themes of these complex and dramatic happenings.  The photographer focuses on being a part of the protest, being with people, showing solidarity and unity. The surprising and beautiful document, his artistic statement, is a work in progress, much like peaceful Belarusian protests.  In the contemporary digital world, his choice of tools – a classic camera with a black-and-white film – writes itself into the paradoxical history of protest which in this way becomes an aesthetic revolution.

In November 2020, Zmicer Waynowski was detained during the weekly “Pensioners’ march”.  He was sentenced to 13 days in prison under the infamous Article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences. That was the last time he worked as a street photographer in the country’s capital. After serving his sentence, he was subjected to further punishment and repressions and forced to leave the country.

He now lives in Lublin, Poland.

Alena Pratasevich, the curator of “the REM sleep” project

The 2020 presidential elections in Belarus were characterised by an unbelievable level of fraud, which led to massive street protests that lasted over six months and, in some form, continue until today.

Among the protesters gathered in the streets were those driven by an unquenchable desire for change and those with an inherent fear of the unknown. This “collective body” of the street  was important for the photographer to dive into in order to find individual bodies. And what he found was that the poses, gestures and “dialogues” of these bodies are alarmingly “academic” and repetitive but they also invite new interpretations.

For this feat, I picked up a 1980s camera, loaded a black-and-white film and dived into the crowds to get as close as possible to the heart of the events.

I’ve named my project “the REM sleep”.

Everything that’s happening in the Belarusian society feels like a paradoxical dream. It’s like the REM phase, characterised by increased brain activity. One of its symptoms is rapid eye movement. When you look at the eyes, you feel that the sleeper sees something bright and colourful and is about to wake up, having committed to memory what they’ve experienced.

I’ve tried to capture this sense of restless sleeping with patterns of alternating fast and slow phases.

I don’t know what our society dreams about, which stages of sleep repeat images and which produce something new. But I know for sure that I want to be there when those eyes open.

Zmicer Waynowski, photographer



05 - 15 October 2021


All Day


Łokietka Square
Łokietka Square, Lublin
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