Hanna Zubkova (b. 1988, Minsk)

Posted to develop her artistic intervention in a disused brothel in Amsterdam’s Red Light District (De Wallen), Hanna is set to work with a diversity of Netherlands-based sex workers unions and self-support groups. She will proceed by navigating the intricacies of female sex work, empowerment and reproductive/health rights.

 Hanna Zubkova, Portrait © Juan Aguirre Fernández-Bravo

Hanna Zubkova, Portrait © Juan Aguirre Fernández-Bravo

Biography and Background

Originally from Minsk (Belarus), and currently residing in Paris (France), Hanna Zubkova has a consolidated international scholarly and artistic background.

She graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), Sorbonne University in Paris and the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) of Lyon in a combination of disciplines ranging from Human Rights in the Media to the Philosophy of Language, Anthropology and Linguistics.

Hanna's research theses have dealt with the construction and articulation of ‘illness’ and ‘disease’ among young people in her native Belarus through linguistic metaphors, building on the tenets of Susan Sontag in AIDS and Its Metaphors.

A current laureate of the residency programme at the Cité Internationale des Arts of Paris, Hanna has progressively gravitated towards developing an artistic practice through a crossover of live performance, video and installation. Her practice takes place at the intersection of research, field work with various communities and mediation between discordant social groups, combined with her engagement in academia as a lecturer in Philosophy and performative practices.

Her recent collaborations include a project with Thomas Hirschhorn, alongside epigenetic researchers, regarding the possibilities of transcending the "white cube" cultural model, where access to art remains restricted to traditional artistic circles and sociocultural élites.


 Hanna, Portrait © Maryna Blanke

Hanna, Portrait © Maryna Blanke

Artistic Motivations and Interests

Hanna’s pieces are critically reflected upon as being socially instilled, or motivated by her personal activist convictions, though their ambiguity and plasticity creates a space to draw polysemic interpretations from her work.

By scenarising the habitual, or otherwise mundane scenes of daily life in what would appear to be familiar settings, she pays specific heed to subjects and elements which may easily be neglected, cast aside the spotlight. In this new light, her intention is for the viewer or experiencer of the piece to be confronted with people and situations which may traditionally be far-removed from their daily lives.

She is interested in developing artistic projects linked to Belarus, to incorporate her community and social networks onto ongoing intercultural exchanges and discussions. Bringing about a new kind of collective consciousness in existing Belarusian institutions and collectives would be desirable for her.

 Hanna's preparation of her installation Portaal 1012 during PLOV #2 ARTxFOODxCINEMA, celebrated on 19 June 2018 at Studio/K, Amsterdam © Juan Aguirre Fernández-Bravo

Hanna's preparation of her installation Portaal 1012 during PLOV #2 ARTxFOODxCINEMA, celebrated on 19 June 2018 at Studio/K, Amsterdam © Juan Aguirre Fernández-Bravo

AFEW Culture Initiative Collaboration Statement

During Hanna’s earliest explorations of the themes of HIV/AIDS in Belarus and Russia, she was surprised to come across resources promoting the denialism of HIV as an American/European-made myth, a conspiracy diffused to drive a wedge between “East” and “West”.

In a world where the prospects of reciprocal collaboration and the sharing of knowledge between regions are dismissed, Hanna fears that the emergence of isolationist and regressive tendencies on all behalves might create new barriers to effective engagement in any cooperative field, including HIV/AIDS prevention and care.

In her opinion, the phenomenon of HIV/AIDS historically has and continues to encompass more than a clinical phenomenon, additionally crystallising certain “crises of values” between societies, namely due to the incapacity to reconcile 'traditional' with 'liberal' ideas. These crises, she argues, mirror said societies' deepest underlying conditions and issues within.

Hanna’s project sets out to mediate between different communities and social spheres to navigate the concepts of stigmatisation, ignorance and paranoia, as these hinge negatively on the normalisation of HIV/AIDS.

Her work will focus on the juxtaposition of HIV/AIDS conversations to the dynamics of female sex work, taking the city of Amsterdam as a crossroads that (in)advertently connects regions, cultures and knowledge.


 Aftermath of Hanna's Performative Exhibition  "No Boundaries on Love" , shown as part of PLOV #2 ARTxFOODxCINEMA © Juan Aguirre Fernández-Bravo

Aftermath of Hanna's Performative Exhibition "No Boundaries on Love", shown as part of PLOV #2 ARTxFOODxCINEMA © Juan Aguirre Fernández-Bravo