Happy death society
/ Genitive case

National Center for Contemporary Arts
(Belarus, Minsk, Nekrasava, 3)

08/11 - 08/29/2015

Curatorial group: Dina Danilovich, Alena Pratasevich.


"Genitive Case" is an international project that brings together 14 authors who touch upon the theme of family and kinship in their artistic expressions. Photographs, videos, installations that make up the exhibition, allow us to explore the reflection, structure, dynamics of the family and "family", as well as see the autobiographical subjectivity, in other words, what is hidden behind the official image of the family in the works of photographers and artists.Project participants:

Andrey Anro / Belarus
Oksana Veniaminova / Belarus
Tanya Somer / Spain
Andrei Karachun / Belarus
Anastasia Markelova / Russia
Vasilisa Palianina / Belarus
Dita Pepe / Czech Republic
Elena Protasevich / Belarus
Olga Savich / Belarus
Yuri Salabay / Ukraine
Alexander Soldatov / Belarus
Sviatlana Stankevich / Belarus
Tatiana Tkacheva / Belarus
Maxim Shved / Belarus

Happy Death Society

I Forget the Pattern in the Carpet
Medium: carpet, photo print, photo frame, hole
200 x 300 сm

The realms of miracle, death, pain and suffering were always appealing to my grandmother Helena, so as soon as Smarhon got its own Happy Death Society, grandma joined it with gladness. Moreover, my grandma Helena being a devout Catholic would eagerly embrace all that the church had to offer, having sung daily in the church choir for the living. Then, when somebody died, her voice would also sound for the deceased. This lasted until she decided to lie down in bed to await a happy death.

`It's like our old man with a candle, held it himself, kissed a cross, got a communion from a priest, and died a quick death in full sanity, a happy death,` grandma Helena would explain after grandpa Juzik, who had been faithfully turning her body on the bed and rubbing it with pure alcohol, died. They often argued who would die first. Grandpa went ahead, while grandma kept awaiting her happy death still in bed. Death doesn't show up, but a dream does: Helena is in front of the enormous Gates of Heaven amongst other folk in a line up, gazing contentedly at the gates as she's drawn by wondrous gardens, but the voice says, `It's not the time yet'.

It has been seven years. The bed became a place of lamentation and prayer. Lena's bones are burning as if with hellfire, same as the tortures of the damned in the pictures my grandmother was showing to me in my childhood as part of my religious upbringing. Amen.

Happy Death Society is based upon the de- votion to Sorrowful Mother of God. This worship, which later spread throughout the Christian world, origi - nated in Florence after the monastery "The Servants of the Most Holy Virgin Mary", and then the order, the Servites for short, were founded in 1240.

In the late XV century worship of Sorrow - ful Mother of God is growing and gets the name of Our Lady of the Seven Sor - rows, which depicts all the miseries that Mary had endured during her life.

The name Happy Death Society is a "household epithet" from my maternal grandmother, while official title of the association is The Bona Mors Confrater - nity, or Association of Our Lady, Patron of a Happy Death. Confraternity in its modern state was approved by Pope Pius X on July 22nd, 1908 with the headquar - ters in Tinchebray (fr. Tinchebray - ac - cording to one theory the name comes from latin tenebrae - darkness, gloom), France. Pontiff granted the association numerous indulgences and assigned it universal character, which led to its activity sweeping throughout the Catholic church.In 2004 the French headquarters of the Association moved from Tenchenbray to La Chapelle-Montligeon. The sanctu - ary of Notre Dame de Montligeon is also the world centre for prayer for souls in Purgatory.

Happy Death Society

The Malachite Casket
Material: celain figurine, photo print
29 x 25 x 25 сm

Happy Death Society

Grandma Butterfly
Medium: photo print, 2 wings of the Aglais io butterfly
10 x 15 сm

Since the 1980s, the Missionaries of the Holy Family in Poland become cus - todians of the Association, and its polish official center opens in Górka Klasztorna.

From Poland via Catholic church the con - fraternity got to the territory of Western Belarus, thus in the early 2000 members of the Church of the Archangel Michael started joining the happy death asso - ciation, my grandmother Alyantsevich Helena Adamauna (born 1937) being one of them.

Starting 1999 in Poland the masses are held for the living and dead members of the Association. Additionally, all holy masses held daily in November are for the dead members of the Association.

Happy Death Society

White Memorial Table
Medium: photo


This is how aunt Felja christened you
in honor of one too pretty of a gal
having ignored your mother's wish
mother had instructed to name you Hanna
and called you so for one more day
you wept over it
you were looking at your father-in-law
while cutting ham and
thinking about your child
lest it is born as red-headed as him
and it was born a red-head
you wept over it
a priest talked to you in sacristy
asking you what Juzik was good for
but you made a two-village wedding
and when Juzik was coming home drunk
you wept over it
you walked through the town
and imagined yourself living on high ground
and when you got your apartment
on the ground floor
you wept over it
once a bus carrying people up the hill
broke down
and when you got off to give it
a nudge from behind the bus slid downhill
and folded you like a piece of paper
you got up then and off you went
to sing for the deceased
do you remember that young girl who sat
under the shrub and kept sitting there
until she was dead
you looked at her
and you wept over it
one day I asked you and you said
you didn't like joy
you'd rather sit down and cry
then you sat down and wept over it


journalby.com / Olga Bubich: Fears, Boredom and Children "Genitive Case"

The newspaper "Culture" / Daria Amialkovich: About the real and imagined family