“pagan” is an exhibition by Belarusian photographer Andrei Liankevich who captured folk traditions in Belarus dating back to the times before its Christianisation in the 10th century that continue to be practised in rural Belarus. Like in many other places and cultures, Eastern Europeans were unwilling to abandon their traditions and continued to practise them, while propagators of the new faith adopted some of the pagan customs to persuade more people to join, leading to the creation of an eclectic and fascinating mix.
Andrei’s project shows how the rites that are known to modern town-dwellers only to a limited extent, familiar to most people through illustrations in history books or visits to ethnographic museums, are still alive and well in the countryside. Andrei has rendered the detail and atmosphere of rituals and celebrations that take place throughout the year, linked to the agricultural and religious calendar, which survived throughout the centuries.
In the words of Svetlana Poleschuk, researcher who wrote the introduction to Andrei’s book, “Pagan belief survived all socio-political regimes and preserved the most important thing: special attention and respect for the nature. Any object banal at a first glance such as a stone, a tree, a plant, a wreath, or a road appears to be endowed with a symbolic meaning and animated: it brings luck, makes the transition to the afterlife easier, cures disease, protects from evil, gives beauty, bedevils, foretells the future. (…) Penetration into the folk tradition’s secrecy and creation of an unusual, almost mystical image of the present-day Belarusian village distinguish Andrei’s project from everything done in Belarusian photography before him and from photography of Belarus in general. This is not just series of psychological portraits and not just a simple documentation of a way of life; this is a prudent and careful research of an entire cultural layer deliberately free from any politicisation that has become nowadays typical of coverage of Belarusian topics. ‘I tried to answer the question who we were earlier and who we are at the moment being Belarusians’, says Andrei Liankevich”.
Andrei is a photojournalism lecturer in Vilnius, Lithuania, and the organizer of Month of Photography in Minsk. He’s part of SPUTNIK, a collective of Eastern and Central European documentary photographers.
You can find Andrei’s work on his website.
"pagan" opens on the 11th of July at 2.
it is the fifth in a series of 9 exhibitions organised in 76m2 by the*kickplate*project, with the support from the Arts Council of Wales, Torfaen Council’s Arts Development and Pontypool Community Council.
11/07 - 4/08
Tuesday - Saturday, 11:00-18:00
2 Portland Buildings
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