Photos of the Day for July 31, 2014

Road to Polesia. Дарога на Палесьсе.

Village wedding, Azdamichy 2014.  Вясельле, Аздамічы 2014 г.

I always drive slowly along Azdamichy’s streets in order to be able to greet acquaintances and to make way for people going about their business and kids playing in the street.  This time, the sight of a large crowd at the side of the street brought me to a stop.  When people saw who I was they waved me over.  “It’s a wedding, go on into the yard!”  I demurred, asking how one could go in without an invitation.  Just then the bride’s mother came out and insisted that I join the party.

I entered the jam-packed yard just as the best man was undergoing a series of ritual trials with the maid of honor to the cheers of the crowd.

Photos of the Day for July 30, 2014

Road to Polesia. Дарога на Палесьсе.

Like so many other villages in eastern Stolin District, Vjalikaje Maljeshava is booming, with row after row of hothouses producing cucumbers for export and the streets full of farmers moving back and forth from field to garden plot.  The resulting prosperity has had its effect on the village’s youth, which longs to keep up with urban trends and to affect an urban insouciance yet remains instinctively modest and dutiful.

After some gentle persuasion Mrs. Paraskjeva’s granddaughters, who had been chatting with friends on a bench outside the yard, agreed to have their portrait taken, and again with their grandmother.

Mrs. Paraskjeva’s granddaughters.  Унучкі спадарыня Параскевы.

Generations.  Пакаленьні.

Photos of the Day for July 29, 2014

Road to Polesia.  Дарога на Палесьсе.

Storks’ Nest and Mrs. Paraskjeva’s Farmyard, Vjalikaje Maljeshava 2014.  Кубло над дваром спадарыні Параскевы, Вялікае Малешава 2014 г.

For as many years as I’ve travelled through Vjalikaje Maljeshava, this farmyard has hosted a large storks’ nest (e.g., photo of the day for January 5, 2013).  The winter of 2013-2013 brought the old nest down, but the returning stork pair has assiduously rebuilt its home over the past two years.  The owner of the homestead now greets me with a cheerful wave every time I stop to inquire after the storks and to photograph the nest.  One time when I passed the homestead this spring his wife, Paraskjeva, was busy feeding the hens in her orderly yard, and I asked if I could take her portrait.

Photo Exhibition in Brooklyn, New York, August 3-September 2

I extend a warm invitation to all to attend the opening of the photo exhibition “Неруш” / “Revelation” at 1:00 p.m. August 3, 2014 in the exhibition hall of the Belarusian Orthodox church of St. Cyril of Turau, 401 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.  The exhibition will run until September 2.  Nearest subway stations:  Hoyt Street (2,3), Hoyt-Schermerhorn (A, C, G), Nevins Street (2, 3, 4, 5).

Сардэчна запрашаю ўсіх на адкрыцьцё выставы “Неруш“, якое адбываецца 3 жніўня а 13:00 гадзіне у залі беларускай царквы Сьв. Кірылы Тураўскага, 401 Атлянтык Авэню (401 Atlantic Avenue), Бруклін, Нью-Ёрк.  Выстава будзе працягвацца с 3 жніўня па 2 верасень.  Найбліжэйшыя станцыі мэтро:  Hoyt Street (2,3), Hoyt-Schermerhorn (A, C, G), Nevins Street (2, 3, 4, 5).

 

Revelation (Njerush)

Two forces inspire this exhibition.

First, the poetry of the great European poet Ryhor Baradulin (1935-2014), the national poet of Belarus. It was a privilege to know him, and his poem “Неруш“ (“Njerush” — Revelation), a paean to the Belarusan language, gave me the title for the exhibition.

Second, abiding reverence for the common man, in the spirit of Christ’s words “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.”

In these regards, photography in Belarus continues to inspire me in three ways.

First, to chronicle the Belarusan Book of Hours: the cycle of the Belarusan year and the new birth of faith as they are infused by, and infuse, the specific melody of the Belarusan language, the specific Belarusan light, the specific Belarusan sense of place.

Second, to chronicle the depth, resilience, and — again — specificity, yet inherent Europeanness, of Belarusan culture, of Belarusanness. I have witnessed innumerable times how the heart of the Belarusan nation beats in every child, even the smallest child; how the national language sings out in every gesture, in every smile; how Belarusans quietly but firmly live the words of another great Belarusan poet, Maksim Bahdanovich, in his poem “The Chronicler”:

“Thus the modest but devoted bee knows to make honey even from bitter flowers.”

I would feel most fortunate if you the viewer sensed the reflection of these melodies, these rhythms, this devotion in the photographs in this exhibition.

Third, to suggest how the fate of our nation is linked to that of the Belarusan nation. We would not be Americans were it not for the crucial help of Tadevush Kas’tsiushka. We have always honored him as a Pole, as Tadeusz Kosciuszko. Yet, born at Merachoushchyna in the heart of the western Belarusan lands, Kas’tsiushka was a son of Belarusan soil.

In a larger sense, I would recall that the dignity of our nation lies in our identity as a nation of the common man. And anyone who grew up as I did in Chicagoland, or in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, or other American towns and cities across the heartland, knows how the Belarusan common man and others living under the injustice of empire in the same region — Poles, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, and many others — have made the arduous journey to America;

how these decent and industrious people have become part of our nation;

how they have built our nation;

how they have played an integral role in determining who we are, and why.

So in looking at the faces in these photographs we are also looking in good measure at ourselves.

 

Неруш

У гэтай выставы дзве крыніцы натхненьня.

Першая крыніца – творчасць еўрапейскага паэта Рыгора Барадуліна (1935-2014), народнага паэта Беларусі. Я меў гонар быць з ім знаёмым, і выстава названая паводле яго верша “Неруш”, хваласьпева мове беларусаў.

Другая крыніца – глыбокая пашана да такіх людзей, пра якіх Хрыстос гаварыў: “Вы – соль зямлі… Вы – сьвятлo сьвету”.

Гэтае натхненьне вядзе мяне ў фатаграфічнае падарожжа па трох сьцежках.

Першая – занатоўка беларускага брэвіярыя – кола году і хронікі новага нараджэньня веры – як праявы і прычыны адметнага беларускага асьвятленьня, адметнага беларускага водару глебы і адметнага беларускага пачуцьця повязі з радзімай.

Другая – спроба адлюстраваць глыбокую, нязломную і, зноў жа, адметную і неадʼемную еўрапейскасьць беларускай культуры, беларускай сутнасьці. Незьлічоную колькасьць разоў я быў сьведкам таго, што сэрца беларускай нацыі бʼецца ў кожным малым, нават у немаўляці, што мова нацыі сьпявае ў кожным жэсьце і кожнай усьмешцы, што беларусы сьціпла і непахісна спраўджваюць словы Максіма Багдановіча:

“Так рупная пчала ўмее ў соты мёд сабраць і з горкіх кветак.”

Я буду шчасьлівы, калі глядач ўбачыць і пачуе адбітак гэтых мелодый, гэтых рытмаў, гэтай руплівасьці ў працах экспазіцыі.

Трэцяя сьцежка, спадзяюся, вядзе мяне да глыбейшага разуменьня повязі лёсаў нашай нацыі і нацыі беларускай. Мы не былі б амэрыканцамі, калі б не лёсавызначальная дапамога Тадэвуша Касьцюшкі. Мы заўсёды шануем Касьцюшку як паляка, а ён, народжаны ў Мерачоўшчыне, у сэрцы заходніх беларускіх земляў, ёсьць сынам беларускай глебы.

Калі разважаць шырэй, трэба прыгадаць, што гонар нашай нацыі ў тым, што мы ўсьведамляем сябе як нацыя простага чалавека. Кожны, хто вырас на Чыкагшчыне, як я, ці ў Пітсбургу, Кліўлендзе ці любым іншым горадзе сэрца Амэрыкі, ведае, як простыя беларусы і прадстаўнікі іншых нацый, што існавалі пад імперскім уціскам ў тым жа рэгіёне, – палякі, літоўцы, украінцы і многія іншыя – прайшлі свой цяжкі шлях да Амэрыкі, як гэтыя годныя і працавітыя людзі сталі часткай нашай нацыі,

як яны будавалі нашу нацыю,

як яны адыгралі неад’емную ролю ў вызначэньні, кім мы ёсьць і чаму.

Разглядаючы твары на гэтых фатаграфіях, па вялікім рахунку мы глядзім на саміх сябе.

 

 

Photos of the Day for July 28, 2014

Road to Polesia. Дарога на Палесьсе.

As one drives through Malishau from the east and approaches the sharp curve in the road, one’s eye looks naturally straight toward a welcoming,  long-standing storks’ nest.  This time what enlivened the scene was the group of pals fishing with home-made poles in the small pond between the road and the nest.  They were having as much fun goofing around as trying to catch fish.

Photo of the Day for July 27, 2014

Road to Polesia. Дарога на Палесьсе.

Crosses of Belarus (part XX):  Varonina 2014.  This roadside cross always radiates an aura in the late afternoon sun.

Крыжы Беларусі (частка ХХ):  Вароніна 2014 г.

Photo of the Day for July 26, 2014

Road to Polesia. Дарога на Палесьсе.

A favorite Polesian oak.  Любімы палескі дуб.

It’s impossible not to stop every time in passing to greet this noble tree.

Varonina 2014.  Вароніна 2014 г.

Photo of the Day for July 25, 2014

Road to Polesia. Дарога на Палесьсе.

How many times had I passed by this scene without stopping to take in all the shapes in this cluster of trees?

Near Dubrova 2014.  Ля в. Дуброва 2014 г.

Photos of the Day for July 24, 2014

Road to Polesia. Дарога на Палесьсе.

Belarus in Faces (part CXXXIX).  Беларусь у тварах (частка СХХХІХ).

Six years ago I had noticed two neat-as-a-pin houses and barnyards side-by-side in Chyrvonaje.  I stopped to chat with the owners, sisters Maryja and Nina.  After some gentle persuasion they agreed to having their portraits taken, and I subsequently gave them copies.

Maryja and Nina, Chyrvonaje 2008.  Спадарыні Марыя й Ніна, Чырвонае 2008 г.

Their houses have remained in impeccable order.  After after talking to the granny across the street (photos of the day for July 23), I waved to Maryja and Nina, who were watching from the other side of the road.  They recognized me and bantered about my photography.  We talked about their impending strawberry crop and they noted how important it is always to leave the first three ripe strawberries in the woods as an offering to God.

When I mentioned that I was on my way to Azdamichy and Tsjerablichy, Maryja’s eyes twinkled.  She had been a bus conductor on the route from the district center of Zhytkavichy in Homjel’ Region through those villages to the district center of Stolin in Bjares’tsje (Brest) Region.  She unerringly described the language, dress, and character of each village and recalled how the locals spoke of the continuing marked differences in attitudes “to the west of Malishau, beginning in Vjalikaje Maljeshava”.   Malishau, the last village in Homjel’ Region before the border with Bjares’tsje Region, was the last village on the Soviet side of the border during the Soviet interwar occupation of the eastern Belarusian lands.  Vjalikaje Maljeshava was the first village in the western Belarusian lands on the Polish side of the interwar border.

Maryja and Nina, Chyrvonaje 2014.  Спадарыні Марыя й Ніна 2014 г.

Maryja.  Спадарыня Марыя.

Nina.  Спадарыня Ніна.

 

Photos of the Day for July 23, 2014

Road to Polesia.  Дарога на Палесьсе.

Eight years ago on a photo expedition to Polesia we had stopped to ask this granny about the road ahead.

Chyrvonaje 2006.  Чырвонае 2006 г.

On a subsequent journey I  stopped to give her an enlargement of one of the photos I had taken, and every time thereafter I would look out for her when passing through Chyrvonaje.  In 2011 her house burned down, and although for a while one could see hens in the yard and other signs that she had been able to recoup something, for the past two years the yard has looked forlorn.

While driving through Chyrvonaje this time, I caught sight of the granny sitting with her neighbor by the ruins of her house, and stopped to wish her well.

Chyrvonaje 2014.  Чырвонае 2014 г.