The First Scream

She stands on a platform in front of the Haus der Berliner Festspiele.

Her long black and white dress flutters in the wind – she holds it away from her body, arms outstretched. The faces of 1,280 people in prison in Belarus become visible. „I’m from Belarus, not from Weisrussland,“ Jana Shostak says over and over again on May 12, while people who have just seen the first part of Philipp Stölzl’s „The Inheritance“ are engrossed in conversation.

Few of them direct their gaze for long at the performer standing between them. Nor does anyone scream when she asks them to do so – in solidarity with Belarusian activists, politicians and artists who are behind bars. Alone, she shouts out her desperation, in a clear voice, before taking a breath and then starting again. Her performance skillfully reflects what is going wrong in society: often fates that seem far away are not heard, although they also affect the here and now. 

Same performance, different day, different people, different effect: On May 15, Jana Shostak performs „1 Minute Scream“ again, now for the third time. Fewer people are sitting and standing in front of the Festspielhaus, they are younger, and not as fancily dressed. They are waiting to be admitted to the performance „Cyber Elf“. When the artist invites them to shout, this time a man asks his standing neighbor: „Should we join in?“. A few seconds later, more people join the loud protest. Some become part of the performance, transforming it for those who watch. 

Within a few minutes, Shostak opens a space for interpretation while criticizing the dynamics of society – of ignorance. She shows how easy it is to look away, and draws attention to the fact that it takes the brave to make the first scream, to transform a situation. Powerful, short, touching.