a little Minsk bookshelf (i)

Here are some books that I recommend.

Opening the Door?Julija Fomina and Kęstutis Kuizinas, eds. Opening the Door? Belarusian Art Today. Vilnius: Šiulaikinio meno centras / Contemporary Art Centre, 2010. ISBN 978-9986-957-48-5 (Worldcat).

The book to accompany an exhibition of the same name held at ŠMC/CAC in 2010–11. Four texts, and brief introductions to the work of each of eighteen Belarusian artists (or pairs of artists, etc). Despite its single English title, it’s trilingual: English, Lithuanian and Russian.

I bought my copy at ŠMC/CAC, which lists its publications but doesn’t obviously state how they may be ordered.

Minsk: The City and PeopleVadim Kachan (Вадим Качан). Minsk: The City and People (Минск. Город и люди). Minsk: Artia Group, 2011. ISBN 978-985-6893-29-5. (This should find it in Worldcat, but at the time of writing does not do so.)

A book of black and white photographs by Vadim Kachan of Minsk, with captions and short texts in both Russian and English. It’s affectionate but not too postcardy — it’s the kind of book of which Prague provides many examples. Reproduction quality is serviceable. You can see the book, or an exhibition of the work it contains, here, here, and here.

The book is labelled “Masters of the Belarusian Photography”, suggesting that it’s one volume within such a series. I didn’t see any other volume; perhaps some are on their way.

In summer 2011 this was available in Minsk bookshops.

Minsk in One DayChrystaphor Khilkevich (text) and Siarhei Plytkevich (photography). Minsk in One Day: Guide-book. 3rd (?) ed. Minsk: Riftour, 2007. ISBN 978-985-6700-55-5 (Worldcat).

Yes, this purports to be a guidebook for one day in Minsk. It would be an eye-opening, educational, but long and exhausting day. The text is intelligent, the photographs are good, and it’s all ingeniously indexed; but the format is too large to let it fit into any normal pocket. However, even if you don’t use this as a guidebook, it’s worth buying and reading. It’s in English only, but editions in other languages also exist.

In summer 2011 this was available in Minsk bookshops.

Minsk: A Journey through TimeVladimir Likhodedov (Владимир Лиходедов; Владімір Ліходедов). Minsk: A Journey through Time (Минск. Путешествие во времени / Мінск. Падарожжа ў часе). Minsk: Technalogia, 2008. ISBN 978-985-458-167-5 (Worldcat, Open Library).

A handsome, substantial book (height 32 cm) that pairs postcards of Minsk as it once was (before the Soviet period or anyway before the war) with photographs of it as it was around 2008. Captions and text are in Russian, Belarusian and English. An index would help, but the content is well organized.

My own copy emphasizes Russian on its front cover and spine (although its colophon is in Belarusian), but plenty of images of the front cover on the web are of a design that emphasizes Belarusian instead; I’d guess that there’s one book with a choice of covers.

In summer 2011 the book was widely available in Minsk bookshops (as were other similarly tempting books, which I didn’t buy, in the same series).

Book prices in Belarus are not fixed and the “list”/recommended price isn’t printed on the book — or anyway I don’t notice any price printed on or in any book that I bought there. This means that the price of a given book may be higher in one shop than in another, and inconspicuously so. But Belarusian books in either Russian or Belarusian (as well perhaps as one or more other languages) are priced distinctly low by US/British standards, and those that are only in English are priced reasonably too. Moreover, the prices for a particular book don’t vary much. So don’t waste your time “comparison shopping”, and don’t be offended when you discover you could have saved a small amount by buying in some other shop.

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

next in the Belarus series


Gallery Y, Minsk

Gallery Y (Галерэя сучаснага мастацтва «Ў») is very close to Victory square. It opened in late 2009 and as far as I know it’s Minsk’s sole gallery of contemporary art. The particular exhibition was of limited interest to me, but the adjoining bookshop Logvinau (Кнігарня «логвінаЎ») was very pleasing, as I there first saw several interesting books, notably two by a new name to me, Artur Klinau.

There’s also a cafe/bar, Moloko (Бар «Малако»), in the same building. In Your Pocket makes this sound good.


Gallery Y, Minsk

Gallery and cafe/bar:

Gallery Y, Minsk

And a Volga for a quick getaway:

Gallery Y, Minsk

next in the Belarus series