Working across performance, video, installation, and text, Hanna Zubkova explores how subjectivity and personal experience interact with infrastructures of knowledge and power structures, be that of political or linguistic hegemony. In Circle Ring Stones Chess, the artist addresses the nature of violence through the acts of research, editing, and manifestation. The work captures a chronotope spanning from 1996 to 2020—from the referendum that solidified the power of the Belarusian president to the anti-government protests that engulfed the country in 2020. The documentary photographic poem— as termed by the artist—consists of two parts: unedited screenshots from found video footage of riot police exercises in the 1990s and the unmodified words taken from medical reports recorded by paramedics during the 2020 protests. These screenshots capture the initial opening lines of each exercise, subtitled in red with the words ‘circle, ring, stones, chess’—presumably naming manoeuvres. Zubkova treats the found footage both as a document and a semantic oxymoron, highlighting the discrepancy between the subject and the descriptive systems applied to it. The clarity of the medical reports, arranged poetically by Zubkova, document concussions, broken limbs, and death at length. This is starkly contrasted with the banality of the simple words assigned to riot police manoeuvres, underscoring the absurdity of violence and the limits of individual autonomy.
Work in the exhibition: Circle Ring Stones Chess (2023), documentary photographic poem, Ditone-Print (Inkjet), medical report text from the state ambulance department, 2020. Translation: Joan Brooks. Courtesy of the artist