A Belarus-born artist is celebrating the fearless women protestors of the country’s pro-democracy demonstrations with a new conceptual photoshoot.
Taja Spasskova’s project, Love Is Stronger Than Fear, spotlights women’s potential in the remaking of Belarus. It’s inspired by the power and unity of the Belarusian opposition’s three female leaders, as well as the human chain which saw thousands of Belarusian women take to the streets with flowers amid mass arrests and police brutality.
Spasskova’s photos of her friend and artist Ilana Izmailova reference an array of protest symbols, including the 1928 painting Eva, by the Belarus-born painter Chaim Soutine, and the red-and-white Belarusian flag, which President Alexander Lukashenko changed when he first came to power in 1994.
Meanwhile, the traditional patterns made from red tape on the model’s body represent sown fields and the blossoming earth, which Spasskova says has gained a particular resonance today. “The story of the Belarusian demonstrations is a story of personal and social transformation,” the artist told The Calvert Journal.
But the photo shoot also transmits an air of vulnerability. “I wanted to express the difficult feelings Belarusian people are going through at the moment — pain, fear, obscurity,” said Spasskova, who is now based in Prague.
“Through this project, I want to share my solidarity with all Belarusian people who bravely stand for truth and freedom. They deserve our support, respect, and attention. I can’t imagine Belarus will ever be the same again after all that’s happened over the past month.”
The current mass protests in Belarus followed presidential elections on 9 August, which saw Lukashenko win a fourth term despite widespread evidence of vote rigging.