Although Alexandra Soldatova graduated in Mathematics, she has become known for her penetrating photography. The Belarusian photographer’s It Must Be Beautiful project took her on a journey across Belarus, in search of the country’s most lavishly decorated bus stops. In this exclusive interview, we talk to Alexandra about her life and work.
The Culture Trip: Thanks for joining us, Alexandra. Tell us – what’s your story?
Alexandra Soldatova: I’m a photographer, currently living and working in Minsk, Belarus. I’m working in documentary and conceptual photography. My main field of interest is daily life and social questions in Belarus.
CT: What do you care about the most when taking photographs?
AS: Actually, it depends on the project. But in any case, the image is secondary for me, the most important thing is finding something new, some new ideas, understandings, people, whatever…
CT: Tell us about the It Must Be Beautiful series.
AS: In Belarus, my home country, people love when everything looks neat, clean and beautiful. I decided to search for the origins of this fact. So I researched the environment where people normally live and I was looking for rather outstanding and at the same time very common things which could influence the esthetic feeling of a person.
This project is about decorating reality. All these paintings on the bus stops are made through local authorities by unknown ‘artists’, with the only purpose to beautify empty landscape. Their intention is to create an etalon, a perfect beauty. Without knowing it, they create a ‘window’ to a fictional, idealistic space, which sometimes looks like a dream.
CT: How would you describe the current photography landscape in Belarus?
AS: Fast-changing. There is a paradox. At one side Belarus looks like a little bit frozen in time but form another, if you look at the same town or village in two years, you can’t recognize it sometimes. The same goes for culture.
CT: Tell us your favorite book (and it doesn’t have to be about photography!)
AS: Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Snail on the Slope.
CT: Is there a city, country or place that inspires you every time you’re there?
AS: Croatia is gorgeous.
CT: What’s the single most valuable piece of advice you ever got?
AS: Had so many. Everything is valuable if you are able to hear it.
All images © Alexandra Soldatova, alexandrasoldatova.com