Iconostasis. From Migrant’s Altar. Farewell (2023, mixed media installation , Belarus)

About the artist
(1982, Belarus, lives in UK)
Born 1982 in Minsk, Belarus. Currently lives in London, UK. Multi-disciplinary visual artist. Finalist of the national selection to the 59th Venice Biennale for Belarusian Pavilion, 2022.




Artist statement

n 2016, due to Belarus’ political turmoil under Lukashenko’s dictatorship, Maria Gvardeitseva immigrated to Latvia. In 2022, facing citizenship refusal, she had to surrender her passport to the Consulate. This auto-exile, portrayed in “Migrant’s Altar. Farewell,” symbolizes a painful separation from her Motherland.

Maria’s work explores the trauma of exile and societal rejection. She dissociates exile from subjective guilt, framing it as a mindful sacrifice to regain agency over her life. In her video artwork, Maria burns her passport, sacrificing her past for control over her future. Suitcases filled with personal relics represent pivotal moments, torn apart and arranged as an Altar.

Through this separation, Maria examines the bond with Homeland and individual autonomy. She critiques state power by isolating her passport and questioning its symbolic limits in “Anatomy of Citizenship.”

“Iconostasis. Migrant’s Altar. Farewell” is Maria’s journey to her true self, delineating her past from her future and illustrating the price of freedom.

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