The Museum of Stones was created as a reflection and speculative extension of the self-publishing practices that appeared during the protests in Belarus and continue today. As a hybrid infrastructure, such publications, also known as neighbourhood newspapers, are created through grassroots initiatives and distributed via digital platforms and streets. Everybody can download the issues from Telegram channels, print them out at home and put them in mailboxes, cafés or other public places. Protest neighbourhood newspapers create common solidarity structures that disseminate essential political information, in light of the majority of independent media in Belarus having been closed down and deemed ‘extremist’.
By utilising political imagination, The Museum of Stones provides opportunities for more voices to be heard, creating alternative or additional ramifications in the existing infrastructure of neighbourhood newspapers. The newspaper issues are devoted to the possibilities of organising care infrastructures in a particular neighbourhood, with the practices of the ‘cybernetics of the poor’ serving as an antithesis to ‘high technology’ through multiple interviews with anarchists, representatives of the LGBTQ+ community and militants, among others.
For the exhibition, the Museum of Stones editorial collective has created a reading environment and an underground printing department where everyone can not only read all issues of the newspaper but also make copies of the latest issue dedicated to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine to continue the distribution network in residential buildings and public places.
The name ‘Museum of Stones’ is borrowed from a museum of the same name in Minsk, where stones from all over the country have been collected. This museum was initiated in 1985 by the Research Institute of Geochemistry and Geophysics. It is symbolic that today the open-air museum finds itself between the High Technology Park, large Soviet housing estates and the Minsk ring road (MKAD), thus exposing the ruins of infrastructure.
The Museum of Stones editorial collective is an experimental cooperative that brought together nine artists, cultural workers and social workers. It was formed in 2021 and is based on collective reflections on residential neighbourhood protest activities and alternative support infrastructures in Belarus.