Igor Shugaleev (BEL): 375 0908 2334 / the body you are calling is currently not available
The performance was born out of a need to oppose violence, stress and fear, to overcome the sense of guilt currently experienced (consciously or not) by Belarusians.
+375 is the telephone code of the Republic of Belarus. 09.08 is the date of the presidential elections, which were cynically rigged by the authorities. The spite and discontentment felt by the citizens because of the election results led to a revolutionary protest movement, and hundreds of thousands of Belarusians took to the streets to demonstrate against the unlawful reelection of Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus since 1994. The demonstrations were brutally crushed by the government. Numerous people were arrested, interrogated and tortured. Many of them can no longer be reached on the phone; if called, one only hears a beep and the sentence: «The person you are calling is currently not available». Concern about their whereabouts remains inextricably connected to this beep ever since. 2334 is the number of the Administrative Code article “Violation of the procedure for organizing or holding mass events” according to which more than forty thousand Belarusians have been convicted since August 2020.
Belarusian performer Igor Shugaleev lives in exile and fights against the current paralyzing state of hopelessness with his own body. In collaboration with artist Sergey Shabohin he developed a performance in which he shares his activist perspective on the ongoing protests in his homeland and explores the question of how solidarity is possible with political prisoners on the ground in Belarus.
“I was looking for a way to express the horror of the events that befell us – how to talk about numbness, fear and at the same time contempt for violence, about the feeling of guilt over the mass emigration of Belarusians and my own – being just an actor how can I support the protests? And this performance was the answer: it is important to stay informed, active, conscious, not indifferent or disparate.” (Igor Shugaleev)
Concept, Performance: Igor Shugaleev
Collaborating: Martin Boross
Date: 7 PM, 12 September 2022