19 January 2018, Friday, 16:38

Mikhail Hulin: Policemen insulted dark-skinned volunteer

Being arrested for geometry is nonsense, an artist thinks.

Mikhail Hulin and his assistants were detained by riot police during their performance in October Square in Minsk. The artists talked to 34mag.net after he was released:

“I am a member of Going Public project focusing on the problem of expression in public space. We are now accepting Russian and Lithuanian artists, who are visiting us. Belarusian participants of the project – Antanina Slabodchykava, Volha Sazykina and I – were to carry out some performances, or let's better call it pieces of art, because the word 'performance' scares many people here. We were to talk about problems of expression in public space.

I made a project 'Private Monument'. It is a transforming sculpture  consisting of geometric  elements – three pink cubes (40 x 40 cm) and a yellow parallelepiped (120 x 40 cm). My thought was that a person walking with a paining in his hands does not surprise anyone. But someone wanting to set a sculpture in public space raises some questions. Sculptures have no political messages. These are just painted cubes. It is a clear suprematist composition. The composition contains several modules, so I needed three assistants to help me. They were volunteers found by the project coordinator. I have never seen them before.

We set the monuments in city squares. We visited four of them – Kalinin, Yakub Kolas, Independence and October squares. October Square was the last one. Riot police detained us there.”

The artist says police officers used physical force and insulted the detainees:

“We were taken to Kastrychnitski district police department. Policemen just smiled when they heard my explanations. They asked why we had gone to the square. They insulted my assistant, a dark-skinned guy, and called him 'Zimbabwe', because he has 'ugly black mug', as a policeman explained to his co-worker. I made a remark, but they replied their would work with me 'on an  individual basis'. It's not very pleasant to hear it from a 130-kilogram airhead.

Two of my assistants were beaten just because they asked to inform them about a legal basis for the detention. We went to emergency hospital. One of the guys has mild brain concussion. The problem is that he cannot receive an appointment card for forensic medical examination  – he needs to take it from his district police officer, but the guy lives in Dzyarzhynsk.

We spent about seven hours in the police department. My assistants will have trials on October 22. I will be tried on October 26. We are charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.