New East Digital Archive

Power vertical: inside Minsk, a city stuck in time

11 December 2014

Photographer Vitus Saloshanka returned to Minsk in 2009, eight years after he left his native Belarus for Germany, to capture a city which has ultimately stayed the same despite some change. The result was Dreamland, named after the lettering on one of the rides at an amusement park in Minsk but also a reference to the totalitarian state-controlled dream come true (a similar theme is visible in Rafal Milach’s new book The Winners). Saloshanka approached the city from a distance as a landscape, almost entirely avoiding close-ups and portraits. “I was interested in urban landscapes,” he says. “The images convey my feelings when I saw the city after a long time of absence — as a space, a stage.” In his photos, people appear small while Minsk resembles a model city in pastel colours. Subtly captured but ever-there is the ghostly presence of power in the series, in military trucks, groups of soldiers and propaganda posters. While the city comes across as desolate in some images, in others it is imbued with a sense of joy because of a social event of one kind or another. “The city is particularly interesting during organised events, like the 9 May annual city festival,” he says. “There were groups of people representing factories or schools marching in convoy through the city. It felt like being sent back to another era: the socialist past.”

See the second part of Vitus Saloshanka’s project on Minsk here.