a little Minsk bookshelf (iii)

Belarus Press Photo 2010BPP 2010 Belarus Press Photo (Прэс-фота Беларусі 2010). Kaunas: Arx Baltica, 2011. ISBN 978-9955-39-116-6 (Worldcat). In Belarusian, Russian and English. (And no, not Lithuanian. Worldcat has got that wrong.)

This runs to 144 excellently printed pages. About half of it is devoted to gags, lovable dogs, fashion shots, sports moments, and so forth; but even if you’re as little interested in these as I am, and if you discount some repetition elsewhere — perhaps there are a few too many photographs of border guards and would-be members of crack police/military units undergoing training or tests — you still get a lot of worthwhile photography for your money. If you thought Grimaces of the Weary Village was surreal, how about (on p.59) a masked, white-clad employee of the Palessie State Radiation Ecological Reserve monitoring radiactivity just metres away from the farmer holding a blowtorch to a dead pig? This masterpiece is one of several by Viktor Drachev (of AFP), some of whose work you can see on this page. Among the other photographers is Andrei Liankevich, on whom see below.

All of this is the result of the first Belarusian press photo competition, with a mostly Russian and Lithuanian jury but organized by Belarus Press Photo. The organizers hope that it will become an annual event. The photographs in this first volume go back to 2006 or so, so this time we’re looking at the best in roughly four years. If I guess the meaning of the colophon correctly, there are just 1000 copies; get yours and thereby help finance “BPP2011”. I bought my own copy at Logvinau but here it is at MIPP, for example.

Focus on BelarusAndrei Liankevich. Focus on Belarus: Andrei Liankevich, Fotografien / Photographs / Фотаздымкі. Leipzig: Swen Steinberg and Daniel K. W. Trepsdorf, 2008. No ISBN; not in Worldcat.

You can read about the exhibition by Andrei Liankevich (Андрэй Лянкевіч, Андрей Ленкевич) of which this is the catalogue here (it was part of Focus on Belarus: Terra Incognita), see some of the photographs here, here and in this PDF, and see the book here.

A variety of scenes of Belarus. There are just 38 photographs, but none of them is filler and they’re all excellently reproduced. The informative captions are in German, English, and Belarusian. There’s an introductory essay by Ingo Petz that’s enthusiastic but (perhaps due to deficiencies in translation) is so to an absurd degree.

“Idea, conceptual design, compilation” are credited to Steinberg; the book is “issued by” Steinberg and Trepsdorf.

The book is not easy to find. No library obviously possesses a copy. Anzenberger used to have signed copies for $35 but now has unsigned copies for $60.

Liankevich’s later book Pagan is very different. (As it happens, I like them both.)

Fotografie aus MinskFotografie aus Minsk: Uladzimir Parfianok, Igor Savchenko, Galina Moskaleva, Sergey Kozhemyakin, Vladimir Shaklevich. Berlin: ifa-Galerie Friedrichstraße, 1994. No ISBN; OCLC 214607452 etc; here (and elsewhere) at Worldcat.

A well-printed but slim exhibition catalogue whose text is in German only. I got it from ABE as the title sounded intriguing and the price was low. It turns out to be less photography than artists doing arty things with cameras and found photographs (or their own photographs made to look found): all worthy no doubt, but to me unexciting. The content, all monochrome or approximately so, is by Uladzimir Parfianok (Уладзімір Парфянок, Vladimir Parfenok, Владимир Парфенок), Igor Savchenko (Игорь Савченко), Galina Moskaleva (Галина Москалева), Sergey Kozhemyakin (Сергей Кожемякин) and Vladimir Shaklevich, each of whom gets a text introduction and also a CV. If I could read German I might then be enlightened by the texts and find the work fascinating, but I doubt it. Yet several of these photographers exhibit other, more interesting series on the web, so don’t rush to discount them. And as for what’s in this catalogue, your sensibilities may of course be artier than mine.

Copyright of the cover images above of course belongs to the respective publisher or photographer, not to me.


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