Not only in Eastern and Southeastern areas of Europe, but also in the West, places connected with consumerism, luxury or (supposed) quality are often given the label of ‘Europe’. In Minsk, the capital of Belarus, the newly constructed five-star hotel “Europa” towers above the city centre. Apart from superficialities, however, declarations of a belief in Europe are rare, and depend upon current political wiles. In this country, with its authoritarian regime, it is constantly suggested to the people that they are living in a prospering state of which they have every reason to be proud, in spite of their continual rise in poverty.
The media and outdoor advertising portray fairy-tale pictures, upon which people drily comment that they would far rather be spending their lives there, in these pictures, than in reality itself. For a long time now, all the promises of social improvement made by the powers that be have remained unfulfilled.
With her installation, the artist Marina Naprushkina reveals the contradictory juxtaposition of official publicity and the reality of everyday life. She opens up a disturbing view of a selective propaganda in practice. Naprushkina shows parts of a rapid municipal modernization, which primarily serves representative purposes. The construction sites of beautiful new buildings are covered with tarpaulins showing the impressive finished results of large projects – the national library, shopping malls, memorials. From other countries in a similar state of transition she reveals evidence of a restructuring of the system that is often of an extremely dubious nature. The artist took the title of the video, “Wealth for All” from the slogan of Gregor Gysi’s election campaign in 2009. Naprushkina translated three speeches by German politicians (Angela Merkel, Guido Westerwelle, Oskar Lafontaine) and had people in Belarus read them out in front of the camera in their homes or in semi-private places. With pathos, respect for the authors of the texts or attempts to adapt what they are reading to Belarusian reality, the readers of the texts react to the comments that affect them so closely and yet are so far removed from them. Here also, Gysi’s slogan “Wealth for All”, which is meant to apply to everyone in a democratic sense, has no relation to the real circumstances.