Luleå Biennial 2020:
Time on Earth

Information regarding Covid-19

Last chance The Luleå Biennial 2020: Time on Earth

Wednesday February 10, 16~20 and Saturday February 13–Sunday February 14, 12~16
Galleri Syster is open. Group show with Augusta Strömberg, Susanna Jablonski and Ana Vaz.

Thursday February 11–Sunday February 14, 12~16
Havremagasinet länskonsthall in Bodenis open. Group show with Beatrice Gibson, Susanna Jablonski, Birgitta Linhart, Fathia Mohidin, Charlotte Posenenske, Tommy Tommie and Danae Valenza.

Saturday February 13–Sunday February 14, 14~18
The former prison Vita Duvan is open with an electro acoustic installation by Maria W Horn.

Saturday February 13, 15~19
The artist Markus Öhrn and the poet David Väyrynens sound installation "Bikt" is exhibited on the ice by Residensgatan in Luleå. Listen to older generations of Tornedal women and their testimonies.

Book your visit via Billetto. Drop in is possible as far as space allows.

For those of you who do not have the opportunity to physically visit the Luleå Biennale on site, a radio show including artist talks, sound works and specially written essays will be on stream on Saturday February 13–Sunday February 14. Visit our radio page here.

The exhibitions at Norrbotten's Museum, Luleå konsthall, Välkommaskolan in Malmberget and the Silver Museum are unfortunatly closed.

The Secret Museum of the Workers Movement
Aleksei Borisionok

We tried several times to get into the museum of the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus, located in one of Minsk’s main squares inside the Palace of Trade Unions. Operated by the official trade unions, the museum remains unknown and inaccessible to the general public: ostensibly a secret. We tried to enter it directly from the street and corresponded with the Palace of Trade Unions’ management. This organization is in charge of many other facilities besides the museum. It is simply impossible to enter it as one would a regular institution as it lies within the Palace, which one cannot enter without permission. Also, one cannot visit the museum as an individual; you have to organize a group. Though we know it exists, we could never see this hall that narrates the history of Belarus’ union and labour movement. The administrator of the museum (perhaps, the only worker there) said that the management of the Palace is responsible for granting admission and, after a series of long conversations, stopped picking up the phone. “You need to make an application for organizing a visit for your group,” “you need to gather a group of at least ten people,” “you need to get permission from the director of the Palace,” “you need to pay five rubles each,” “you will be contacted.”

I kindly ask for permission to arrange a visit to the “Museum of the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus” for a group of eight to ten people on October 22, 2020, at 11:00. The group includes cultural workers who would like to get acquainted with the union’s history and workers movement in Belarus.

The administrator never contacted us. Later, over the phone, it turned out that she had contracted coronavirus and did not want to talk about it publicly. She wanted to keep this secret, so she didn’t call us back. The museum got disinfected. My mother, the former deputy chairwoman of the trade union committee, learned that there never was a virus during a phone call and that they simply did not want to take groups “from the street.” The museum belongs to the Federation, “so you will need a certificate from the union committee to get in.” The next evening, it turned out that the head of the Federation was organizing Lukashenko’s biggest rally after two and a half months of mass protests before the day of the general strike. The latter was announced as the primary tool to dismiss the president, free political prisoners, and stop police and state violence. Probably, the museum staff were afraid of civil disobedience. But how can a visit to a museum, in which there would probably be no one besides us, be considered a provocation? What were they hiding from us? At the end of the day, the pro-government rally was cancelled.

What would the objects and documents in the museum tell us? What would the shelves and the guide’s narrative present to us? Perhaps some objects would be critical of the factories’ directorship and capitalists, of the exploitation of labour. They would then show us solidarity and make other alliances with the body of the worker and other material bodies. They would be comrades who have won back their time. The secret museum would compel us, following Saidiya Hartman(1), to “critically fabulate” the local stories of struggle: as for example of Rakov women-smugglers or the Narach fishermen on strike.

We can only see this museum in a few poor-quality photographs that are available on the Internet. Both in Zhodino and Soligorsk, we were not allowed to enter the factories’ museums – they are protected by security; you cannot get in to see them “from the street.” Not only is the representation of production hidden from us, but also the history of its struggle. Official displays of ceremonial history – awards, gifts, and portraits – would hide faults, experiences, and organizations. We thought it would be the history of socialism, the story of the poor and hungry, of those working for pleasure and giving up work, striking and standing in solidarity, doing invisible work, hating power, and offering one’s comrade a helping hand. Such a museum would be flickering: present to all within any given moment but be able to disappear when necessary, becoming secret.

The strike was not cancelled. On Saturday, there was a women’s march of professions, on Monday a general strike is announced. “A woman’s work is never done.” But what if it ends on Monday?(2)


  1. Saidiya Hartman, Venus in Two Acts, Small Axe Journal, Indiana University Press, Number 26 (Volume 12, Number 2), June 2008. pp. 1~14.

  2. This text was written after the failed visit to the Museum of Trade Union and Workers Movement in Minsk, Belarus in October 2020 and published in Russian at TransitoryWhite.

Since August people in Belarus have revolted against unfair elections, state and police violence, besides many other forms of protest, strikes at major industrial and cultural companies were among the most powerful tools of civic unrest. Now, in February 2021 workers start to receive prison terms for these forms of resistance. For example, Igor Povarov, Aleksandr Bobrov and Yevgeny Govor, workers of Belarusian Metalworks Factory in Zhlobin were imprisoned for three and two and a half years for the street blockage that culminated in the shutdown of three production ovens on August 17, 2020.

In February 2021, the title of this text piece will also be the title of an exhibition at Hoast, Vienna curated by Aleksei Borisionok with participation by Gleb Amankulov, Uladzimir Hramovich, Marina Naprushkina, Olia Sosnovskaya and a special contribution by Valentin Duduk. The exhibition embodies the notion of the secret museum of the worker’s movement. It presents a fragmented narration of workers heritage, historical strikes and contemporary forms of labour unrest in Belarus and beyond. It will open on February 26, 2021 and will end on March 21, 2021.

Translation by Steven Cuzner.

Radio 65.22 is an auditory cross section of the biennial’s theme and contents, which amplifies and makes accessible written texts, framed situations and artistic voices. Radio 65.22 also enables an encounter with chosen parts of the Luleå Biennial’s activities for those who cannot experience the biennial in situ.

With Radio 65.22, we want to inscribe ourselves into an experimental and exploratory radio tradition, where the media itself becomes a platform for our ideas on radio and its capacity to depict and mirror the world around us. The task of Radio 65.22 is to tell of reality, in further ways that may not be possible through the image or the text.

Under Fragments: Time on Earth you will find radio programmes and sound pieces in different genres and forms that reflect this year’s biennial in various ways. Spirit of Place is a touring series of literary conversations on language and place. The culture journalist Kerstin Wixe takes us along to places that have played a significant part in an author’s stories, or carries the story’s history. Woven Songs is a deepening series of radio programmes that accentuate singing, the voice and the role of storytelling in the creation of new world views and orders, produced in collaboration with Public Art Agency Sweden.

Listen, reflect, enjoy!