At the heart of this work are two antagonistic Belarusian flags. The official flag of the Belarusian government is red and green with an embroidered pattern along one side. It was introduced in 1951, when Belarus won a seat at the UN despite still being part of the Soviet Union. The white-red-white flag is the opposition flag, used by Belarusian people in protests against Lukashenko’s regime. Since 2020 any use of protest flag symbols can be subject to fines or penalties of imprisonment and detention. The red-white flag has a longer history, introduced as the flag of the short-lived Belarusian National Republic in 1918. When Belarus won independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, it was readopted, but shortly after Lukashenko came to power in 1994, he held a referendum on returning to the old, Soviet flag in a slightly modified form, without hammer and sickle.
Since the 2020 general election in Belarus, the two flags have become symbols of confrontation. Protesters against what is seen as rigging by Lukashenko have repeatedly taken to the streets covered in the colors of the old flag, while regime supporters use the official flag as their symbol.
In Parallel Dimensions, Gladko has taken a symbolic image of a sky map at the time of the flags’ approval (1918/1995). Using a light beam, the graphic image on the glass blends into a complex unified shadow creating a general field. The artist is interested in the themes of illusory reality, layering of different segments of history, non-linearity of temporal space. When one reality comes into conflict with another is becomes distorted – a shadow zone.
In the video projection, the artist walks along a forest road, gradually moving deeper and deeper into the forest. But the observing camera does not let the figure out of its field of view, bringing the receding figure closer each time. Keeping it under close observation, the camera eventually blurs the figure, turning it into a digital pixel.
Zhanna Gladko is a Belaroussian artist educated at the
Belorussian State Academy of Arts, and the Republican College of Art, Minsk. Her works have been shown at a long list of international institutions, most recently the Manifesta Biennial, Kosovo, Pristina (2022), Hvitsten Salong art festival, Hvitsten, Norway (2022), Frau mit Automat, Supermarket 2022, Stockholm, Sweden, and Queer Runaways in frames of Not Human Art Week, Halle 60, Aachen, Germany (2022).
Gladko is currently artist in residence at Safemuse, Oslo. Special thanks to Residence Coordinator Jon Lundell.