Belarus Sergey Shabohin: We are Stern Consumers of Cultural Revolutions

Sergey Shabohin
© Alexey Kubasov

We are Stern Consumers of Cultural Revolutions, installation, 2012
 
Geographically speaking, Europe – wedged between the Atlantic and the Urals – is a small western appendage of the Eurasian continent. Belarus is situated approximately in the middle.  The ideas of freedom, democracy, human rights and spirit of the Enlightenment bind it to Europe.  The latter is often denied to Eastern Europe at the hands of (Western) Europe which considers itself to be at the forefront and arbiter of civilisation.  Such a value judgement is justified historically by stating that the Enlightenment only took superficial purchase in Eastern Europe. Thus, the West idealises itself in relation to the East. However, who decides what is part of Europe and what isn't? Does Europe believe in its own ideals? Which price is Europe prepared to pay for the implementation of European values? Or is Europe first and foremost an economic union? In times of globalisation and increasing economic crisis, these issues are becoming more acute – beyond pathos-filled declarations of European Unity and solidarity. Artists like Sergey Shabohin take up such issues. In his neon work, the sentences "Western Consumers of Cultural Revolutions" and "Eastern Consumers of Cultural Revolutions" alternate, the ironic title of the work uniting and rendering interchangeable western and eastern consumers of cultural revolutions alike: are we not all stern consumers of cultural revolutions – regardless of geography, east or west?