An artist´s reflection: Hvitsten Salong 2022

By belarusian artist Zhanna Gladko

October 8, 2022
Photo: Zhanna Gladko

About the artist

Zhanna Gladko (1984) is a visual artist and a graduate of the Republican College of Arts in Minsk and the Department of Easel Graphics at the Belarusian State Academy of Arts. She is currently one of Safemuse’s artists in residence based in Oslo. In this article, Gladko reflects on her experience and the process of creating an outdoor art installation for the festival Hvitsten Salong in august 2022.

Belarusian artist Zhanna Gladko is one of Safemuse's artists in residence

Relentless flow of time

Working on the art installation Relentless Flow Of Time / 2022 for the art festival Hvitsten Salong has been an important and interesting experience for me. It was especially important to me because it was the first time that I exhibited my art in Norway. I was interested in the Norwegian history and local context, the topics that contemporary Norwegian artists work with and my encounters with Hvitsten Salong’s creative community and the participants with different stories and backgrounds.

This festival showed me that the art community in Norway is developing in a friendly and supportive atmosphere, welcoming people with different histories and cultural contexts. I was happy to meet many artists whose names was not already familiar with. I met those whose practice is close to me both in terms of artistic strategy and the themes that contemporary artists work with. I was pleased to get good feedback on my work from local artists and was pleasantly surprised at how hospitable they were.

Another important point for me is that this is the first work I have shown outside a gallery space. So for me this experience is still important as a step in the development of personal professional tools, which is important for an artist whose practice is mainly related to gallery and museum spaces.

I also felt comfortable working on the preparations for the festival whilst being in Hvitsten itself, with the warm and caring support of the Safemuse team. The fact that no one restricted my ideas, did not correct or censor me – neither in the process of reflection on the work, nor during the creation of the installation is of great importance to me and cannot be underestimated. For me, as a Belarusian artist, this is an important and valuable aspect, which I emphasise, because in Belarus, making such a work is simply impossible. To work in Belarus with any statement that touches on social or political issues can lead to imprisonment – it is a restrictive and limiting condition, which binds the artist’s hands and takes away his or her voice. That is why I am happy to have the chance to show my voice, to have the right to a personal manifesto, not to leave unnoticed and invisible those topics of concern in countries where crimes against humanity and crimes against artists are taking place right now.

It was important for me to show work that has a difficult conceptual side. It refers to events which are important for the current history, which on the one hand is important to fix, but on the other hand is also ephemeral and unstable – like everything that happens in the era of post-truth, digital oversaturation and devaluation of meanings. Therefore, it was conceptually important for my work in interaction with the natural environment – which always corrects and puts everything in its right place.

Photo: Zhanna Gladko
“To work in Belarus with any statement that touches on social or political issues can lead to imprisonment – it is a restrictive and limiting condition, which binds the artist’s hands and takes away his or her voice.”

– Zhanna Gladko

About my work in Hvitsten

The installation consists of a series of glass inscriptions made of ashes. The series is called Relentless Flow Of Time / 2022 and was created especially for Hvitsten Salong.

The inscriptions on the glasses are taken as fragments of expressions, headlines from the world’s press, which printed news about the war in Ukraine, about the revolutionary events in Belarus. I am interested in the phenomenon of information deformation in the post-truth era, when information flow is characterized by the layering, distortion and devaluation of meanings. My intention was that, with the passage of time and interaction with nature, the rain and humidity would partly deform, erase, disappear – everything that happens to memory and history over time in the social, political and any other context.

This series of works began with the creation of Force. Farce. False. / 2020 (https://gladko.org/FORCE-FARCE-FALSE). The slogan emerged during the 2020 pandemic when the President of Belarus refused to take any action to reduce the risk of coronavirus during the pandemic. Statistical figures on the sick were hidden and distorted in the media.

In 2020, I created a slogan on glass and displayed it on the balcony of my flat in Minsk, on one of the city’s main avenues. The inscription was made of a sticky transparent liquid and, over time, dust, dirt, and smog from the avenue accumulated on it. Later, during the revolutionary events in Belarus, the glass panel displayed on the balcony was passed by police cars as peaceful protests were held. Thus, the inscription was symbolically shaped by the dust, by the moods that were in the air in 2020 – hatred, fear, enthusiasm, protest.

The work in Hvitsten is the next stage in the series. And the ash material is important here as a reference to the military events in Ukraine, to recent events in Belarus – which are part of a complex history and struggle for independence.

Photo: Zhanna Gladko

A commentary by Anne Weyer Larsen:

Zhanna Gladko’s art work Relentless flow of time

Glass panels with inscriptions of ashes. The piece is based on a work she started at the onset of the pandemic – Force Farce False. It dealt with, among other things, the popular uprising against Lukaschenko in Belarus, and is now relevant in connection with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A simple chain of events that unfortunately develops into a greater and deeper darkness. The work is not intended to be decorative, illustrative or complex, but seeks to reflect the pain of the present. The work is a response to contemporary events with a relevant statement. At its core – a universal code that corresponds to any historical moment. The work is not intended as a political statement, but as a reflection on the changes taking place in the social structures, the breaking of the times in which we now find ourselves.

One of the layers is dedicated to the information war that is currently taking place. The artist is interested in post-truth, the layers of meaning that disappear, memories and forgetting, the conflict zones around different meanings, different discourses. The words become like a thundercloud that thickens, darkens because of the layers of meaning, and all the words. The words are taken from world news. With rain and wind, the words will be erased over time. This is also the passage of time in a longer perspective. We do not forget and remember the horror in the same way. 

Anne Weyer Larsen. Photo by Amedeo Benestante

Anne Weyer Larsen works as an art mediator at Hvitsten Salong, Henie Onstad Art Center and has many years of experience working with a number of art institutions where she has partaken in various art projects and artist-driven events.

I hope to rediscover freedom of speech

About us Support us I hope to rediscover freedom of speech Varun Narain interviewed in BLIKK magazine Varun Narain is a queer puppeteer and live performance director from India. He combines modern and traditional puppetry and works on articulating gender fluidity and sexuality. Narain has taught Puppetry and contemporary communication at Jamia Millia University for

I hope to rediscover freedom of speech Varun Narain interviewed in BLIKK magazine Varun Narain is a queer puppeteer and live performance director from India. He combines modern and traditional puppetry and works on articulating gender fluidity and sexuality. Narain has taught Puppetry and contemporary communication at Jamia Millia University for

I hope to rediscover freedom of speech Varun Narain interviewed in BLIKK magazine Varun Narain is a queer puppeteer and live performance director from India. He combines modern and traditional puppetry and works on articulating gender fluidity and sexuality. Narain has taught Puppetry and contemporary communication at Jamia Millia University for ...

Varun Narain – A universe of puppetry, botany & queer survival

About us Support us ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE VARUN NARAIN: A universe of puppetry, botany & queer survival Varun Narain held an an artistic intervention at the Artistic Freedom Conference 2024 in Oslo. Photo: Jannik Abel If you find yourself in Oslo between the 10th and 13th of March, you have the rare opportunity to experience ‘Dark&Delicious’ by

ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE VARUN NARAIN: A universe of puppetry, botany & queer survival Varun Narain held an an artistic intervention at the Artistic Freedom Conference 2024 in Oslo. Photo: Jannik Abel If you find yourself in Oslo between the 10th and 13th of March, you have the rare opportunity to experience ‘Dark&Delicious’ by

ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE VARUN NARAIN: A universe of puppetry, botany & queer survival Varun Narain held an an artistic intervention at the Artistic Freedom Conference 2024 in Oslo. Photo: Jannik Abel If you find yourself in Oslo between the 10th and 13th of March, you have the rare opportunity to experience ‘Dark&Delicious’ by ...

Fri Kunst dagskonferanse 2024 / Artistic Freedom Conference 2024

About us Support us FRI KUNST DAGSKONFERANSE 2024 / ARTISTIC FREEDOM CONFERENCE 2024 Fri Kunst konferanse, 1. mars på Riksscenen, Oslo For tredje året på rad arrangerer Safemuse en dagskonferanse på Riksscenen under Fri Kunst-uken i begynnelsen av mars. Dagen byr på samtaler som setter søkelys på den frie kunsten og kunstneres endringskraft og rolle

FRI KUNST DAGSKONFERANSE 2024 / ARTISTIC FREEDOM CONFERENCE 2024 Fri Kunst konferanse, 1. mars på Riksscenen, Oslo For tredje året på rad arrangerer Safemuse en dagskonferanse på Riksscenen under Fri Kunst-uken i begynnelsen av mars. Dagen byr på samtaler som setter søkelys på den frie kunsten og kunstneres endringskraft og rolle

FRI KUNST DAGSKONFERANSE 2024 / ARTISTIC FREEDOM CONFERENCE 2024 Fri Kunst konferanse, 1. mars på Riksscenen, Oslo For tredje året på rad arrangerer Safemuse en dagskonferanse på Riksscenen under Fri Kunst-uken i begynnelsen av mars. Dagen byr på samtaler som setter søkelys på den frie kunsten og kunstneres endringskraft og rolle ...

Meet our newest staff members

About us Support us Meet our newest staff members Heidi Marie Kriznik (left) and Tiril Ellingsen Thue are the newest additions to Safemuse’s administration. Photo: Espen Tollefsen / Akari Izumi Kvamme We are happy to present Safemuse’s newest staff members: Tiril Ellingsen Thue and Heidi Marie Kriznik. Tiril has been involved with Safemuse since last

Meet our newest staff members Heidi Marie Kriznik (left) and Tiril Ellingsen Thue are the newest additions to Safemuse’s administration. Photo: Espen Tollefsen / Akari Izumi Kvamme We are happy to present Safemuse’s newest staff members: Tiril Ellingsen Thue and Heidi Marie Kriznik. Tiril has been involved with Safemuse since last

Meet our newest staff members Heidi Marie Kriznik (left) and Tiril Ellingsen Thue are the newest additions to Safemuse’s administration. Photo: Espen Tollefsen / Akari Izumi Kvamme We are happy to present Safemuse’s newest staff members: Tiril Ellingsen Thue and Heidi Marie Kriznik. Tiril has been involved with Safemuse since last ...

Safemuse has been evaluated: VISA PROCESSING THE GREATEST CHALLENGE

About us Support us Safemuse has been evaluated: VISA PROCESSING THE GREATEST CHALLENGE Report cover photo: Ghawgha Taban, guest artist in the City of Harstad (Photo: Knut Utler) The evaluation praises the way Safemuse work with censored, threatened and persecuted artists from all over the world, but we are criticized for not marketing ourselves as

Safemuse has been evaluated: VISA PROCESSING THE GREATEST CHALLENGE Report cover photo: Ghawgha Taban, guest artist in the City of Harstad (Photo: Knut Utler) The evaluation praises the way Safemuse work with censored, threatened and persecuted artists from all over the world, but we are criticized for not marketing ourselves as

Safemuse has been evaluated: VISA PROCESSING THE GREATEST CHALLENGE Report cover photo: Ghawgha Taban, guest artist in the City of Harstad (Photo: Knut Utler) The evaluation praises the way Safemuse work with censored, threatened and persecuted artists from all over the world, but we are criticized for not marketing ourselves as ...

OPEN CALL – Oslo and Hvitsten Art Haven 2024!

About us Support us OPEN CALL – Oslo and Hvitsten Art Haven 2024! June 1, 2023 Artwork by Zhanna Gladko Artistic freedom of expression, solidarity and collaboration In 2022 Safemuse invited for the first round of safe residency placements in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, in cooperation with Nordic Black Theatre. Two six month residencies open

OPEN CALL – Oslo and Hvitsten Art Haven 2024! June 1, 2023 Artwork by Zhanna Gladko Artistic freedom of expression, solidarity and collaboration In 2022 Safemuse invited for the first round of safe residency placements in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, in cooperation with Nordic Black Theatre. Two six month residencies open

OPEN CALL – Oslo and Hvitsten Art Haven 2024! June 1, 2023 Artwork by Zhanna Gladko Artistic freedom of expression, solidarity and collaboration In 2022 Safemuse invited for the first round of safe residency placements in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, in cooperation with Nordic Black Theatre. Two six month residencies open ...

Wrocław Institute of Culture/ Hvitsten Salong/ Safemuse residency project

About us Support us Wrocław Institute of Culture/ Hvitsten Salong/ Safemuse residency project May 31, 2023 Art walk at Hvitsten Salong. (Photo: Hvitsten Salong) MEET THE ARTISTS OF “WHOSE VOICES ARE HEARD” We are pleased to announce that we are inviting 12 minority artist living in Poland and Norway and one artist from outside the

Wrocław Institute of Culture/ Hvitsten Salong/ Safemuse residency project May 31, 2023 Art walk at Hvitsten Salong. (Photo: Hvitsten Salong) MEET THE ARTISTS OF “WHOSE VOICES ARE HEARD” We are pleased to announce that we are inviting 12 minority artist living in Poland and Norway and one artist from outside the

Wrocław Institute of Culture/ Hvitsten Salong/ Safemuse residency project May 31, 2023 Art walk at Hvitsten Salong. (Photo: Hvitsten Salong) MEET THE ARTISTS OF “WHOSE VOICES ARE HEARD” We are pleased to announce that we are inviting 12 minority artist living in Poland and Norway and one artist from outside the ...

“Landless Tree” – migration, destruction & resilience, EP debut by Ghawgha Taban

About us Support us “Landless Tree” – EP debut by Ghawgha Taban Photo credit: Camilla Norvoll “Landless Tree” – migration, destruction and resilience, EP debut by Ghawgha Taban In her first EP release, Ghawgha Taban sings about a “tree without a land”. About an eternally displaced body filled with memories of migration both as a

“Landless Tree” – EP debut by Ghawgha Taban Photo credit: Camilla Norvoll “Landless Tree” – migration, destruction and resilience, EP debut by Ghawgha Taban In her first EP release, Ghawgha Taban sings about a “tree without a land”. About an eternally displaced body filled with memories of migration

“Landless Tree” – EP debut by Ghawgha Taban Photo credit: Camilla Norvoll “Landless Tree” – migration, destruction and resilience, EP debut by Ghawgha Taban In her first EP release, Ghawgha Taban sings about a “tree without a land”. About an eternally displaced body filled with memories of migration ...

FRI KUNST 2023 – under autoritære regimer

About us Support us FRI KUNST – under autoritære regimer: 3. mars FRI KUNST – under autoritære regimer, fredag 3. mars 2023. Safemuse inviterer til den årlige markeringen av Fri Kunst på Riksscenen – en feiring av kunstnernes unike posisjon til å beskrive, utforske og utfordre vår tidsånd, og til å belyse og avkle maktutøvelse

FRI KUNST – under autoritære regimer: 3. mars FRI KUNST – under autoritære regimer, fredag 3. mars 2023. Safemuse inviterer til den årlige markeringen av Fri Kunst på Riksscenen – en feiring av kunstnernes unike posisjon til å beskrive, utforske og utfordre vår tidsånd, og til å belyse og avkle maktutøvelse

FRI KUNST – under autoritære regimer: 3. mars FRI KUNST – under autoritære regimer, fredag 3. mars 2023. Safemuse inviterer til den årlige markeringen av Fri Kunst på Riksscenen – en feiring av kunstnernes unike posisjon til å beskrive, utforske og utfordre vår tidsånd, og til å belyse og avkle maktutøvelse ...

Whose voices are being heard? Exchange program for foreign artists from Poland and Norway.

About us Support us OPEN CALL: Whose voices are being heard? – Exchange program for artists from Poland and Norway 2023 OPEN CALL FOR ARTISTIC RESIDENCY IN WROCLAW, POLAND 2023 We invite artists to apply for the residency exchange “Whose voices are being heard?” organised by the Wrocław Institute of Culture (Wrocław/PL), Hvitsten Salong (Hvitsten/NO)

OPEN CALL: Whose voices are being heard? – Exchange program for artists from Poland and Norway 2023 OPEN CALL FOR ARTISTIC RESIDENCY IN WROCLAW, POLAND 2023 We invite artists to apply for the residency exchange “Whose voices are being heard?” organised by the Wrocław Institute of Culture (Wrocław/PL), Hvitsten Salong (Hvitsten/NO

OPEN CALL: Whose voices are being heard? – Exchange program for artists from Poland and Norway 2023 OPEN CALL FOR ARTISTIC RESIDENCY IN WROCLAW, POLAND 2023 We invite artists to apply for the residency exchange “Whose voices are being heard?” organised by the Wrocław Institute of Culture (Wrocław/PL), Hvitsten Salong (Hvitsten/NO...