In September 2017 for the fourth time in a row Belarus welcomes «МONTH OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN MINSK» – an international festival aimed at extending the photographic medium understanding, contribute to the development of cultural field and enhancement of the status of Belarussian photography in the region and the world. «МONTH OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN MINSK 2017» presents 16 exhibitions held in 10 venues of 4 Belarussian cities and towns, 11 workshops, lectures and presentations in which foreign and Belarussian speakers are participating.

Throughout the years photographers, art-critics and curators from 11 countries took part in «MONTH OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN MINSK» events. 12 venues in Minsk and Grodno hosted cultural and educational events with the guests from Australia, Belarus, France, Germany, Great Britain, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia and Ukraine. The total audience of the festival numbered more than 500 000 spectators.

Last autumn «МONTH OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN MINSK» was announced as thematic for the first time. 5 exhibitions of the main program held in the capital’s «CECH» Hangar introduced the visitors to various perspectives on the issue of the interaction between «the center» and «periphery». And if in 2016 having proposed such a seemingly purely geographical subject we wanted to emphasize the scope and dynamics of photography, the topic of this year’s festival would reflect the opposite perspective.

The situation in the cultural and art environment in the world and in Belarus, in particular, suggested the choice of the issue of «collectivization» as a conceptual reference point. Together with the festival’s guests and participants, we would like to propose to study a variety of meanings that may be associated with this concept and thus, perhaps, distance ourselves from what traditionally has been associated with the history of the Soviet Union. This year the focus will be drawn to the country itself: «МONTH OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN MINSK» exhibitions and events will be held not only in Minsk and Grodno, but also in Brest, Postavy and Kaptaruny – in the art-village on the Belarusian-Lithuanian border organized by writer Arthur Klinov and the theater critic and editor of the «pARTisan» magazine Tania Arcimovich.

The main exposition of «МONTH OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN MINSK 2017» opens on September 6 2017 on the platform of a new space «Canteen XYZ» and includes 6 exhibitions of which each has a specific way of approaching the semantic field of «the collective». We are sure that the range of interpretations of «collectivization» is going to expand considerably and move beyond the phenomenon of the period of the first decades of the USSR, which defines the unification of individual peasant farms into collective ones, if we refer to the derivatives of this word – the Latin «collectivus» (collective) – and study it from today’s perspectives.

Within the main exposition there are two projects which deal with archival photography that draws attention to the metaphysical aspects of collectivity as the continuity of the genus. They are «What Does Not Die, Does Not Live» with documentary photographs of funeral rites by Jan Siwicki and Boguslaw Augustis and «The Best Side» of the young social-cultural project «Milestone» – the Belarusian initiative that helps to restore, properly conserve and collect family archives.

«IS (not)» is a set of stories about Iceland, «an ancient continent populated by elves and EU opponents» made by the Polish-Belarusian photo-collective «Sputnik Photos». Apart from the project’s conceptual side, it demonstrates the potential of group work in the field of photography, allowing to collectively «overcome stereotypes» even in cases when themes may seem culturally alien to the authors.

«Home Call» is the result of the cooperation of another team – «Indie Gallery». It is an experiment in which 12 Israeli photographers exchanged keys from their apartments and shot in each of them a project that reflected the author’s understanding of the word «safe haven”, thereby raising the questions concerning incursion, concealment, exposure and privacy.

The exhibition of the Gender Route «Women’s Emancipation Project: Between Utopia and Reality (to the Centenary of the Revolution of 1917)» is dedicated to the study of the coexistence of historical collective narratives and personal, more hidden, narratives of women activists. It features the portraits of Ukrainian women warriors and warring women, Zhanna Kapustnikova’s works and films «Painted Paradise» about the Belarusian primitive artist Alena Kish (scriptwriter and director Galina Adamovich) and «Paluta Badunova: Remember and Do Not Forget» (directed by Valery Mazynskiy).

Belarussian photography is presented by the project of Olga Bubich «Bigger than I» (curators Artur Bondar and Oksana Yushko) about the phenomenon of «Chernobyl children» who since 1991 have been taking part in humanitarian health improvement programs in Europe and North America. One of the critical issues of the exhibition is the opposition of «personal» and «collective»: connected both to the bureaucratic system and to the larger, global world, of which children are gradually becoming a part.

At the festive opening of the festival on September 6, as well as on September 7-8, during the celebration of the city day (on the walls of the Minsk City Hall) the projections of the French visual artist Clement Briend are going to be shown reflecting the history of the Belarusian capital and the traditions of the region.

9 more venues host the parallel program of «МONTH OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN MINSK». Among them there are 6 Minsk venues: Gallery Ў, Minsk (Andrei Liankevich’s exhibition «Goodbye, Motherland!» and «VORTEX PREVIEW» by Belarusian Public Association of Photographers), the National History Museum (Leu Dashkevich’s exhibition «Dedicated to Belarus…»), National Center for Contemporary Art (Viktoria Binschtok and Michael Schafer’s exhibition «with/against the flow»), «CECH» (Part 2 of the Gender Route «Women’s Emancipation Project: Between Utopia and Reality»), «Knizhnaya Shafa» Gallery (Albert Tsekhanovich’s exhibition «There»), the Republican Center of Ecology and Local History (the works of the winners of the children’s photography competition «World Around Us» held by Postavy «Svetosila» photoclub) and culture centers of Brest, Grodno and Vitebsk region (Lyntupy). Brest art space «Kryly Halopa» is going to show the exhibition «BY NOW», the Center of City Life, Grodno, – a part of the extending archive of the Bureau of “Month of Photography in Minsk”, and the House of Culture in Lyntupy – the results of the art-residence in Kaptaruny 2017.

The special guests of «МONTH OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN MINSK 2017» who are going to attend the events in person and hold workshops, lectures and presentations are Michael Łuczak («Sputnik Photos», Poland), Grzhegorz Dombrovski («Albom.pl», Poland), Clement Briend (with the support of the French Embassy) and Michael Schaefer and Viktoria Binschtok (with the support of the Goethe Institute).

This year the festival’s historical component will be continued by the cooperation with the National History Museum of the Republic of Belarus, where the exhibition dedicated to the 135th anniversary of the birth of the photographer Leu Dashkevich and the poet Yanka Kupala. In the framework of the series of photoalbums «The Library of «MONTH OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN MINSK» the catalogue with the works of this classic of the Belarusian photography will be published. The exhibition is going to be held since 6 to 29, October 2017.

The informational support is provided by Tut.by, Radio «Unistar», City.Dog.by.

The technical support is provided by SAMSUNG