Text by Laimonas Briedis
280 x 230 mm.
Andrew Miksys began traveling to Belarus about six years ago to photograph Victory Day, a holiday celebrating the Soviet victory over fascism and Nazi Germany. During the celebrations, tractors, military equipment, and factory workers parade through the streets. A vintage USSR flag flies on a radio tower over Minsk. At a military-themed park named Stalin Line, there is a new statue of Stalin, and World War II battles are reenacted by men dressed in Soviet and Nazi uniforms. Red tulips, a symbol of spring and rejuvenation in the USSR, fill the streets and are given to war veterans as a way of thanking them for their service. It can be disorienting. You might even feel like you are traveling back in time. The scars and, more importantly, the heroics of war have become the central focus of a government in search of a unifying national identity. Miksys soon discovered that other Soviet-style holidays, like October Revolution Day and Day of the Fatherland’s Defenders, are also observed in Belarus. He returned year after year to photograph them. The holidays, though, were more of a backdrop to his project, a way of following the path of national culture while looking for something more personal. Miksys often wandered off the official trail in an effort to seek more intimacy and understanding of a world that should be part of the past but is stubbornly resilient in the present.
About the Artist:
Andrew Miksys is from Seattle, living in Vilnius, Lithuania. His photography has been shown internationally including exhibitions at the Seattle Art Museum, Vilnius Contemporary Art Centre, Kaunas Gallery, “Ў” Gallery of Contemporary Art, and Maureen Paley Gallery. He has been the recipient of grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, Fulbright, and the Aaron Siskind Foundation. Andrew’s work has appeared in many publications and online including DAZED, The New Yorker, Harper’s, HOTSHOE, BuzzFeed, VICE, and AMERICAN SUBURB X. He has published several books through his publishing imprint ARÖK Books. His books include DISKO (2013) from his series about Lithuanian village discos and TULIPS (2016) a new book about Belarus.
About the Publisher:
ARÖK is an independent publisher based in Vilnius, Lithuania founded by photographer Andrew Miksys. In addition to publishing books, ARÖK, advises artists and photographers from around the world helping them print and publish their own books. ARÖK is also a resource for education about photobooks including workshops and hosting photobook events in Vilnius. ARÖK participates in several international book fairs including the New York Art Book Fair, LA Art Book Fair and OFFPRINT London.