Sputnik Photos has published this collection, which strives to go beyond the surface and delve into the duplicity in order to find a certain sense of truth and a touch of irony about the "last dictatorship in Europe".
The resulting photographs have been collected into an album published by Sputnik Photos. Stand By / За Беларусь strives to go beyond the surface and delve into the duplicity in order to find a certain sense of truth and a touch of irony. Poland might be considered an elder democratic cousin to Belarus and there is a sense of responsibility this nation feels for the destiny of the other. Through the works of artists and writers the truth about life in Belarus comes to light even through the closed regime instated by Lukashenko.
The book was two years in the making. As Victor Martinovich writes in his foreword "A Country of Borders", the photographers in the project "stood up to examples of a duplicitous system at every step, there are two literary associations, between 1996 and 1999 there were even two Parliaments, life is tough but then one arrives in Minsk, where everything is clean and well-kept". The topics covered in the book include the natural landscape, marriage, fashion and war veterans.
Jan Brykczyński's series Primary Forest pays heed to the wonders of the Bialowieza National Park from the perspective of everyday people recreating elements of the forest in their homes. This series won the photographer the Grand Press Photo Prize 2012. Brykczyński's explains that he depicts the contemporary interiors of the Belarusian provinces, where elements of the forest are present, along with their representation or imitations".
Justyna Mielnikiewicz, a Polish photographer based in Georgia presents her City of Women series, portraits of women searching for a foreign husband through the workings of a matrimonial agency. Adam Pańczuk looks at the style of young people and arranges these images in the format of a catalogue.
Agnieszka Rayss presents portraits of the female veterans of the Great National War, inspired by the book by Svetlana Alexievich. Rafał Milach's photos pokes holes into the official propaganda of order and happiness by coming into people's homes and capturing the real story.
Mancy Juvan of Slovenia paints a picture of the Belarusian diaspora in New York in Homeland, while Andrei Liankevich's Farewell Fatherland analyses the constant presence of World War 2 in the everyday lives of today's citizens.
The title of the book itself is a play on words, with the English title Stand By signaling a preparation for action, while the Belarusian title За Беларусь (For Belarus) is a common propaganda slogan. The two merge on the cover, blurring the two. The book was made at the initiative of Sputnik Photos, an international collective of photographers from the Central-Eastern European region. Its Polish members include: Jan Brykczyński, Michał Łuczak, Justyna Mielnikiewicz, Rafał Milach, Adam Pańczuk, Agnieszka Rayss. This group examines and documents everyday life across Europe. Earlier albums include the IS(not) photography series from Iceland.
The book is available in a bilingual English-Belarusian edition. It premiered in May 2012 during the Fotofestival Łódź. An exhibition of selected photographs from the album is planned in Belarus in the autumn of 2012.
• Stand By / За Беларусь
With photographs by: Jan Brykczyński, Andrei Liankevich, Manca Juvan, Justyna Mielnikiewicz, Rafał Milach, Adam Pańczuk, Agnieszka Rayss.
Foreword by: Victor Martinovich.
Curator: Andrzej Kramarz.
Concept and layout: Ania Nałęcka / Tapir Book Design
Publisher: Sputnik Photos, Warszawa 2012
Format 171 x 216 mm, 160 pages, hardcover
Print run: 1000 copies (including 50 sztuk signed copies)
For more information, see: www.sputnikphotos.com, sputnikinbelarus.blogspot.com
Editor: Agnieszka Le Nart
Source: Sputnik Photos