Elena Rabkina is a Belarusian refugee artist and activist who combines her artistic, journalistic, and psychological background to create interactive pieces in the field of social illustration and public art. Her main topics of focus include ecology, urbanism, social justice, migration, and activism.
Her recent works are built upon the complex exploration of the migrant experience trauma through experimental art.
Fellow of the Netherland Institute of the Advanced Studies, Elena Rabkina exhibited her work at various venues including the National Contemporary Art Center, Belarus; SÜDBAHNHOF fotografische Werke, Germany; Mark Rothko Art Center, Latvia; Ars Electronica, Austria and others.
Elena is also a collaborator with various organizations such as Journalists for Tolerance, ABF, New Regions, and the Red Cross. In 2020, she left Belarus due to political repressions and has since lived and worked in Odessa, Ukraine. She is currently based in Europe and continues to use her art as a means of social commentary and activism.
CV & Experience
2023 - «Belarusian Dream», acrylic on porcelain. Exhibited at Pakhuis de Zwijger Cultural Center, Netherlands.
2023 - [SOLO] «Between Private and Public», photography, interactive art, artistic research. Exhibited at Nowy Teatr, Poland.
2023 - «The Moment of Truth», interactive installation. Exhibited at Ars Electronica, Austria; Sziget Festival, Hungary.
2023 - [SOLO] «14 Confessions of an Artist», interactive and public art, photography. Exhibited at Platform, Finland.
2023 - «FACE», digital art and interactive installation. Exhibited at Augmentica Hallucinations Exhibition, Poland.
2023 - «Queerdom into the Other Worlds», digital art, installation. Exhibited at Festung Hohensalzburg.
2022-2023 - «Still Standing», photography, performance. Exhibited at Vasenthien Art Gallery, Germany; Toruń Centre of Contemporary Art, Poland.
2022-2023 - [SOLO] «14 Confessions to the City», interactive and public art. Exhibited at Superbude, Austria; Platform, Finland.
2022 - «Sea Heals», photography. Exhibited at Brunnenpassage, Austria.
2022 - [SOLO] «Falling», installation. Exhibited in the public space in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany.
2023 - Speaker at International Conference on Studies of Belonging, Netherlands.
2023 - Author of the Program on Contemporary Photography at Østerskov Efterskole, Denmark.
2022-2023 - Author of the Female Leadership Accelerator at European Humanitarian University, Lithuania.
2021 - Speaker and Mentor at the Contemporary Art Festival "CONNECT", Ukraine.
2020 - Speaker at the Belastok Art Laboratory, Poland.
2020 - Speaker at European Architecture Student Assembly, Belarus.
2019-2020 - Speaker and mentor at the Collabex Art Accelerator, Belarus.
2017-2020 - Organizer of the Urban and Art Festival «Vulica Brasil», Belarus.
2016 - Speaker at TEDx, Belarus.
2023 - Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts.
2023 - Ukrainian National Dragomanov University, Art Theraphy Aspects of Work with Refugees and Migrants Program.
2021-2022 - Odessa I. I. Mechnikov National University (Master‘s degree in Psychology).
2011-2012 - Program on Contemporary Photo Art by Alexander Velidimovich.
2007-2012 - Minsk State Linguistic University (Bachelor’s degree).
2003-2005 - Vitebsk Art School.
I have an unstoppable desire to explore and evolve. I would like to see my art as a tool of social change and that’s why I gravitate towards visual andinteractive form of arts and even those forms, which are defy conventional categorization. For me always goes idea first and medium second.
I believe in the power of compassion, vulnerability and co-creation.
There's rarely just one answer to any question, and if Morpheus were to offer me the blue and red pills, I might just take both.
I am a multidisciplinary artist, my style is pretty fluid, soit is hard to put in one box. Though, if to summarize my artistic of past 10 years, it consists of:
Between Private and Public (2023), Temporal Beings (2023), Artists at Work (2023), Still Standing (2022), Invisible People (2022), Diaspora (2022), Sea Heals (2021), Her Deed (2021), Youth (2019), Black Stories (2017), I See You, I Miss You (2017), Moreless (2016-2017), Motion to Emotion (2014-2016).
FACE (2023), Queerdom in Other-Worlds (2023), AE: Artificial Emotions (2022), Tender and Masculine (2022).
Interactive Installations and Experiences
The Moment of Truth (2023), FACE (2023), Falling (2022), Invisible People (2022), Animals (2017-2021), Blind City (2018 - 2020), Critics (2017), Moreless (2016-2017), The Cube (2013).
Media Mayhem (2023), Nazouniki (2022), I am Okay (2021), Animals (2017-2021), Space of Contrast (2018), Under the Light of Lamps (2017), Time Eclipse (2016), Sea of Wishes (2015).
Netherland Institute of Advanced Studies, Institut für Europäische Politik, Nowy Teatr, Centre dramatique national de Reims, Teatro Municipal do Porto.
"Belarusian Dream" offers a portrayal of 2020 Belarusian protests, set against the backdrop of the Monument honoring Victory in WWII.
The plate's shattered state carries dual symbolism: in Belarusian culture, breaking a plate often signifies good fortune. As such, the fragmented plate is not just a representation of chaos, but also the artist's hope for the realization of this dream. The artwork carries an added personal significance for the artist, who was compelled to leave Belarus in 2020 due to political repression.
Exhibited at Pakhuis de Zwijger Cultural Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands in 2023.
Exhibited at Ars Electronica Festival (Austria in 2023), Sziget Festival (Hungary in 2023).
THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
2023, Budapest, Hungary
"The Moment of Truth" is an interactive art piece that delves into the layers of information surrounding Belarus. This work incorporates a set of glasses. By changing the lenses, viewers can access different layers of information, from official narratives by governmental media to interviews and accounts from human rights activists.
2022, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany
"Falling" is an interactive installation that delves into the devastating reality of war in Ukraine through the use of data visualization. The piece features 300 knives, each representing less than 10% of the bombs that have fallen on Ukraine. The installation aims to give a visceral understanding of the scale of the tragedy for the European audience.
Exhibited in the public space in Frankfurt (Oder), Germanyin 2022.
Exhibited at Vasenthien Art Gallery (Germany in 2022), Toruń Centre of Contemporary (Poland in 2023).
2022, Vasenthien, Germany
The work "Still Standing" is dedicated to the unbreakable spirit of Ukrainian people. Apart of being the typical plant in Ukraine, no matter the conditions – sunflowers will always tend to keep their heads high and reach the sky. The series is the reflection on the war in Ukraine centered arounda regular way Ukrainian villagers bandage sunflowers during the harvesting, so that the seeds don't fall out.
It's a documentary photography series and interview that explores the role of women in activism, particularly in Ukraine.
Through the story of Daria Pugacheva, a performance artist who returned to her hometown of Rivne to bring attention to an abandoned fountain and collect support for its rebuilding, the project highlights the important contributions of women in the fight for social justice and change.
Exhibited at the main square of Lviv, Lviv Municipal Art Center,
Dnipro Center for Contemporary Culture, Ukraine in 2021-2022.
Exhibited at Transponder, Vienna, Austria in 2022.
2022, Vienna, Austria
The photo project "Invisible People" invites visitors to discover the stories and
perspectives of the multicultural migrant workers who often remain unseen behind the scenes
of the hotel industry. Through an interactive installation of transparent photographs,
viewers are prompted to slide a cardboard strip to reveal the portraits of these individuals and gain insight into their experiences.
This project aims to raise awareness about the topic of diversity, inclusion and labour
migration within the setting of the Austrian hotel industry.
"The Critics" is an interactive art experiment on the verge of larp and theatre, combining
the traditional form of the performance and the role-playing game of live action.
Spectators are direct participants in the performance, who and play bigger role than just observers communicating and voting through the online platform.
The theme of the performance is subjective and objective in art, a paradigm shift in the
perception of expert opinion by society. The play touches upon the topics of xenophobia,
HIV stigma, nationalism, community building. Shown at the Center of Belarusian Dramaturgy.
Performed at the Center of Belarusian Dramaturgy, Minsk, Belarus in 2017.
Nominated for RADA Awards in the category "Best Art Project" in 2017.
2016, Minsk, Belarus
«Blind City» is interactive participatory performance for creating of inclusive playing
space and common community within people with and without eyesight disability.
The game experience includes getting to know each other, workshops to the debriefing is played in masks, so the difference between people is really erased. Taking part in it, you
never know who is next to you and you perceive a person and his character from scratch.
Thank you for stopping by! I am thrilled to share my art with you and I hope that my work speaks to you in some way. If you have any questions or just want to say hello, please feel free to reach out to me.