Fotograf Magazine

Andrey Anro

History in Cement

One of the protagonists of the project, the grandfather of the artist Andrey Anro recollects the following story. During the construction of new socialist housing in the town of Smarhon in western Belarus, human bones from an old Jewish cemetery appeared in the cellars of the buildings. The workers collected and marked them into a pit of cement. The complex twentieth century history of Belarus, multilayered and corrupt, has been slowed down and deformed by various power regimes and ideologies, just as the bones were weighed down with cement. They always, however, keep reappearing.

In his media and painting series, Minsk based artist Andrey Anro investigates the work of power and ideology and the rendering of history and politics in visual culture. He usually focuses on the current political situation as in The Belarusian Context. Chapter 1 (2020) devoted to the current uprising in Belarus, or the conflicting heritage of the Soviet Union at present, as in The New World (2015-16). His project Happy Death Society (2019) refers, in contrast, to a personal dimension and the phenomenological experience of his grandparents. The artist witnessed and documented his grandmother Helena’s involvement in Happy Death Society – an informal name for the Catholic Association of Our Lady, Patron of a Happy Death, the members of which desire to die in bliss in order to enter paradise. Her desire to pass away happily brought a halt to her mobility for seven years before death finally came for her. Helena voluntarily stayed in her bed, which became a space of joy, prayer and awaiting. Although at first sight calm and immobile, the bodily and affective situa- tion became dense, full of desires, passions and histories.

Anro documented the small world that surrounded her bed, hypnotic and becoming-abstract: post socialist interiors blend with Catholic imagery, body becomes natural landscape. The project exists as a book, an animated media project and an installation. The artist collected archival photographs and materials and manipulated fragments of images, layers and colors. The images of the mesmerizing narrative are the results of both violent operations – blurring, overlapping and cutting out parts of the bodies and faces, and caring ones – establishing connections and affective links between surfaces, bodies and landscapes. Digital collages stress the ultimate and irreversible moment of death, an event of rupture. They also refer to the work of personal and collective memory – fragmented and sometimes shared. Happy Death Society consequently becomes an inquiry into the processes of transition – from life to death, from memory to history, from socialism to capitalism and the ideologies that stimulate the current of time, as lubricant or cement.

Aleksei Borisionok


ANDREY ANRO is an artist and photographer. He lives and works in Smargon and Minsk, Belarus. He graduated from MMT L.B. Krasina (Moscow, Russia) in 2007, with a focus on “Advertising”. His mediums are painting, photography, digital collage and installation. Anro explores topics such as collective memory, historical heritage, politics, ideology, religion, disappearance and death. He is a member of the art group “Who Except Us”. The artist’s works are in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (MOCAK), in the ART4 Museum in Moscow, in private collections in Sweden, Canada, Russia and the USA.

ALEKSEI BORISIONOK is a curator, writer and organizer, who currently lives and works in Minsk and Vienna. He is a member of the artistic-research group Problem Collective and the Work Hard! Play Hard! working group. He writes about art and politics for various magazines, catalogs and online platforms. His writings have been published in “Partisan”, “Moscow Art Magazine”, “Springerin”, “Hjärnstorm”, “Paletten”, “”, among others. He focuses on the temporalities of postsocialism in his current research.