In addition to photos of real-life people who exemplify collective heroism, digital artists supporting the protest movement in Belarus also use iconic images of female empowerment as part of a global culture, and combine them with images of historical heritage. Belarusian.
From the beginning, women They have been at the forefront of protests in the country, either on the street or as leaders of the opposition movement. For this reason, among many others, artist Daria Sazanovich referred to the current movement as “the revolution with a female face.”
Belarus protest is aesthetically attractive and conceptualized. People wear white-red-white clothing (traditional Belarus colors that appeal to ancient Belarus tradition). White color dominates over the crowd (vs police black). And powerful women that make this protest astonishing pic.twitter.com/DgoYjH2iEl
– Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) August 30, 2020
The Belarusian protest is aesthetically attractive and conceptualized. People wear white and red clothes (traditional colors of the old Belarusian tradition). The white color dominates the crowd (compared to the black of the Police). And it is the brave women who make this protest extraordinary.
In addition to the various forms of artwork, photographs and other artistic expressions used so far during the protests, there is also an altered image of the superhero Supergirl. It first appeared in advertisements for the August protests.
Protests in Belarus to follow this weekend:
👉Saturday: Women March, 16:00, Start at Pieramohi Square
👉Sunday: March for Peace and Independence, 2:00 p.m., Independence Sq.
Crackdown and detentions possible.
For journalists: Be very cautious. pic.twitter.com/jWciGeFivb
– Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) August 28, 2020
The protests in Belarus will continue this weekend:
👉Saturday: March of the Women, 4:00 p.m., start at Plaza Pieramohi
👉Sunday: March for Peace and Independence, 2:00 p.m., Plaza de la Independencia
There is the possibility of repression and arrests.
To journalists: be very careful.
Known by the pseudonym Capitaine Biélorussie, the artist who began using this image was inspired by the work of Bob Oskner, an American comic book artist. Global Voices spoke to the artist, who prefers to remain anonymous for security reasons, about the comic and the idea behind the character:
The idea of Captain Belarus was born from both my interest in comic art and my desire to create a symbol of our revolution, a 100 percent positive character who represents the whole Belarusian nation, as heroic, fair and brave as it is – and its struggle against the cruel dictator.
There are several reasons for choosing Supergirl. First, and most important is that she is a girl. This revolution indeed has a woman's face – its flame was sparked by women and is now supported by women across the country.
The second reason is that Supergirl is a well-known superhero whose face is already associated with noble goals and heroic deeds. I also thought about using Captain Marvel but she doesn't seem as popular as Supergirl in the region.
I think I even saw a similar image of a Supergirl wearing our flag's colors on one of the posters used by protester, which proves that I'm not the only one who thinks this way. Plus – and that is the last reason I can think of – Supergirl's costume is easier to transform into Captain Belarus. ' And she wears a cape. Everybody loves superheroes with capes.
The idea of Captain Belarus was born from my interest in the art of the comic strip and my desire to create a symbol of our revolution, a 100% positive character who represents the entire Belarusian nation, as heroic, just and brave as it is, and its fight against the cruel dictator.
There are many reasons to choose Supergirl. First and foremost is that it is a girl. This revolution has precisely the face of a woman, its flame was lit by women and now it has the support of women throughout the country.
The second reason is that this Supergirl is a fairly well-known heroine, whose face is already associated with noble goals and heroic feats. I also thought about using Captain Marvel but she doesn't seem as popular as Supergirl in the region.
I think I even saw a similar image of a Supergirl wearing our flag colors on a protester's poster, which proves I'm not the only one who thinks so. Also, and this is the last reason I can think of, his costume is easier to turn into that of Captain Belarus. And he wears a cape, everyone loves superheroes with a cape.
American artist Jamal Yaseem Igle has earned an international reputation as a cartoonist and colorist for DC and Marvel comics, including critically acclaimed and fan-favorite Supergirl comics.
In a statement to Global Voices via chat, Igle explained the character's universal appeal:
The idea of a superhero character is partially based in the power fantasy dynamic. Superheroes allow us to go beyond our own imaginary limitations. We live, we die, we breath with them.
Supergirl was initially created during the teen sidekick heyday of the 1950's (in Action Comics # 252), and for a while in the comics her presence was kept secret from “the outside world” acting as Superman's “secret weapon”. During the first few years of inception, she garnered her own fanbase. She became a central point in the book “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Friedan and sparked even more discussions about women's independence. So much so that she finally was “revealed” to the DC Comics universe, nearly 3 years later (Action Comics # 285 in February 1962).
Supergirl, from her first appearance became a bit of a cultural icon for young women at the time and continues to be so. During the 1960's and 70's, she like Wonder Woman began to embody the Independent Woman and the embrace of the Equal Rights Amendment movement. Supergirl continued to become more and more an individual voice, rather than an appendage of Superman and his comic book mission. She began to represent a sense of agency that young female comics fans could embrace as well.
These things are important. Especially now with so much international strife as well as local strife. Capitaine Biélorussie, taking it's obvious inspiration form the spirit of Supergirl and superheroes in general, shows the global reach of the character. It also shows a need for heroes in these challenging times as Belarus contends with a contested election, and a strongman who wants to stifle the voice of the people.
The idea of a superhero character is partially based on the fantasy dynamics of power. They allow us to go beyond our own imaginary limitations. We live, die, and breathe with them.
Initially, Supergirl was created during the heyday of the 1950s (in action comic # 252) and, for a time, in the comics her presence was kept secret from the “outside world” by acting as Superman's “secret weapon”. . During the first years of its creation, it gained its own fans. It became a focal point of Betty Friedan's book “The Mystique of Womanhood” and sparked even more discussions about women's independence. So much so that it was finally “revealed” to the DC Comics universe, almost three years later (in action comic # 285, February 1962).
Supergirl, from her first appearance, became a cultural icon for young women of the time and continues to be so. During the 1960s and 1970s, as Wonder Woman she began to embody Independent Woman and participated in the Equal Rights Amendment movement. SuperGirl continued to become more and more an individual voice and not an appendage to Superman and his mission in the comics. It began to represent a sense of will that young women who like comics could also adopt.
These things are important. Especially now with many conflicts both internationally and nationally. The Capitaine Biélorussie, inspired by the spirit of SuperGirl and superheroes in general, shows the global reach of the character. Furthermore, it shows the need for heroes in these difficult times when Belarus faces a controversial election, and a strong man who wants to stifle the voice of the people.
Supergirl is not the only iconic female image used by Belarusian protesters. Vieršnica is the feminine version of the historical blazon known as Pahonia or Pogonia, in which a knight on a white horse is replaced by a woman with long hair. It was designed by Ales Plotka and Julia Halavina in 2015, and due to high demand, free printable versions were published online.
Plotka, a Belarusian musician and civic activist currently living in Prague, explained the story of the image in an interview with Global Voices:
The image appeared as a cover of my first poetry book “Baisan” and caused a scandal in 2015. A painter who pretended to be a co-author of the coat of arms standard, introduced in 1991, threatened to start a court case against me and Julia Halavina as Vieršnica authors, as well as against other artists, for “desacralizing the sacred. “
It turned into a real Brazilian soap opera: In the finale the sister of a real standard author Jauhien Kulik spoke after years of silence to describe the story of stolen co-authorship and blessed the future life of the feminized symbol. That was a crucial moment for me personally in this story. The symbol was used for the first time at a traditional spring protest March in March 2016, but needed some time to be widely recognized.
The image appeared on the cover of my first book of poetry, “Baisan”, and caused a scandal in 2015. A painter, posing as a co-author of the original 1991 coat of arms, threatened to initiate legal proceedings against me and Julia Halavina as authors of Vieršnica, as well as against other artists, for “desecrating the sacred”.
It became a Brazilian soap opera: in the end, the sister of one of the true authors, Jauhien Kulik, spoke after years of silence to tell the story of the stolen co-authorship and blessed the future life of the feminized symbol. For me, that was a crucial moment in this story. The symbol was first used in a traditional spring protest march in March 2016, but it took some time to become widely recognized.
Plotka explained why women are so important in the current Belarusian protests:
The female triumvirate of the 2020 movement has weakened Lukashenka’s rhetoric against his rivals. His traditional alpha-male style of blaming his opponents with vitriolic attacks no longer worked, so he switched to messages of stability and lurking omnipresent external enemies that allegedly kept Belarus from achieving that promised stability. The trio has shown they agree quickly and give messages fast, which is what helped them gain respect of the people who have grown tired of years of ineffective round tables discussions. Our political rules changed and that had nothing to do with gender
–but with the quality of communications they introduced.
You see, revolution is a temporarily thing, and calling it just “female” is tricky. I would say Belarus is a country with a female face. A country where humanitarian values are the core, and in times of changes, a non-violent transfer of power is goal number one. As long as men adopt and support women and vice versa, it can be achieved. The speed of change in the wider region shows one thing clearly: each scenario is unique and everything is possible.
The women's triumvirate of the 2020 movement has undermined Lukashenko's rhetoric against rivals. His traditional alpha male style of blaming his opponents with vitriolic attacks no longer worked, so he turned to messages of stability and the ever-present external enemies that supposedly prevented Belarus from achieving that promised stability. All three have shown that they agree quickly and deliver messages quickly, which has helped them gain the respect of people who have grown weary of years of ineffective roundtable discussions. Our political rules changed and that had nothing to do with gender, but with the quality of the communications they introduced.
You see, the revolution is a temporary thing and to call it just “female” is misleading. I would say that Belarus is a country with a female face. A country in which humanitarian values are at the core and, in times of change, a non-violent transfer of power is the number one goal. As long as men adopt and support women and vice versa, it can be done. The speed of changes in the region in general shows one thing clearly: each scenario is unique and everything is possible.