Siarhei Brushko

Photography is essentially a technology of fixing the past. Everything that is photographed will soon change, only the snapshot will save the memory of the moment when the camera button was pressed. With the help of photography, it is easy to tell about your vacation, your birthday or corporate party. But it is difficult to make a photo story of how a new country was born in the centre of Europe. For this, the correct frame composition is not enough — one needs the ability to soberly assess the scale of events, to feel and understand time.
This book called Zmena (Change) is based on photos taken by Siarhei Brushko between 1988 and 1994: from the heyday of glasnost in the USSR to the first presidential election in Belarus. This was a turbulent and difficult time, when a year of life gave five years of experience, when circumstances forced us to commit acts that we would hardly dare do now. It were those events that became the prologue to the current Belarusian statehood. It would be wrong to forget how Belarus looked, the way people lived and what everyday problems they faced in those days.
Zmena is probably the best word in the Belarusian language to describe the historical segment of the 1980s-early 1990s, as it combines the meanings of 'change', 'transformation' and 'work shift'. Photographing the formation of Belarus as an independent country, Siarhei Brushko realized the importance of the events. He was able to analyse the setting, and he knew from the very start what he was going to express with his works. Perhaps that is why he was not the swiftest photographer when shooting reports, but he occupied unconventional camera angles, which helped to convey the aftertaste of those events. In 1988, shortly after joining the Čyrvonaja Zmiena newspaper, the Soviet Union announced a policy of openness (glasnost), which made it possible to photograph in the streets. The person with a camera still caused distrust, although a pass with the word 'press' could save the film from being spoilt by police officers and the photographer from charges of trying to undermine the socialist system. It was this slight relief arriving with the wave of Gorbachev's perestroika that gave Brushko the opportunity to fix how one system fell into decay and a completely new system appeared in its place. The main hero of my father's works was an ordinary person at a turning point in history. Through this person, as if through a mediator, Brushko talks about the difficulties: the growing economic crisis, the destruction of the state system, and the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. They say photojournalism cannot be unbiased. It may be true. But looking at my father's photos, one can feel their inner strength and non-indifference to the people. And this is probably much more important than the impartiality of the image.
To me, Siarhey Brushko will always be my father. Despite my personal attitude, I understand the significance of his works. Father's creativity is a symbiosis of art and history, which left a legacy: the portrait of an emerging country. And sometimes we should look back and examine it in order to understand how we have changed and how mature we are.
Zmicer Brushko, photographer, Siarhei Brushko's son

Sergei Brushko
Born in a small town called Gorodeya, near Nesvizh (Minsk region) on 28 May 1958.
Worked as a photojournalist for the "Kaliyshchyk Saligorshchyny", "Chyrvonaya Zmena", "Narodnaya Gazeta" newspapers.

Participated in the Belarusian-Swiss exhibition and publishing project "U poshukach Bielarusi. Hod dvanaccaty paslia Charnobyla"/ "In search of Belarus. The twelfth year after Chernobyl" (together with the Swiss photographer Hugo Jaeggi) (1998). Exhibitions in Germany, Switzerland, Belarus, Ireland.

Died in 2000, having left an invaluable collection of documentary photos, most of which were close to the Cartier-Bresson's style of photos.
At this moment all books are sold
About publication

Size: 17х24 cm,
Cover: hardcover, black textile
Number of pages: 224
Copies: 1000.
Languages: Belarusian, Russian and English.
Distribution form: self-delivery from the distribution point or mailing with cash on delivery

One off those who created the Belarusian photo chronicle in the 1980−1990s historical period was Sergey Brushko. There is a craving to add to the word "created" the adverb "impassively", but that would be a mistake. Of course, his camera was impassive, but the master himself never did. As a matter of fact, his method is based on passion. Devoid of embellishments, audacious, not afraid of open emotions — every black and white photo seems to be created by Magnum Photos.

When working as an editor in the newspaper "Name", I got photos from Sergey. The same question raised over and over again — what should I refuse? Every report is a complete story, each portrait is a character, each photo depicts the whole era. I am not pretentious — it was our fate to live during such a turning point when everything is important. The Sergey Brushko's heritage embraces a namazing set of documents fixing the Belarusian period of he end of the last century.

Nikolai Khalezin
, art director of the Belarus Free Theater
Writing about parents is both easy and difficult. It is difficult, because it is easy to be accused of prejudice and subjectivity. And for the same reason, it is easy, because subjectivity in this case becomes the highest form of objectivity — unrestrained childish love. I admire the photos of my father and admire them unrestrainedly and proudly. Just like my father, I make my living as a photographer. Examining the photos taken more than 20 years ago, I keep on looking for the answer to this question — how could he do that? How did he manage to take photos of not just people, but the whole human stories, which can be read from his photos?

Looking through the father's photos of the end of he 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, I came to realize that the epoch in front of me was an amazing, fantastic epoch showing the most different life in Belarus. At ;first we wanted to take a few comments about that time, but our interlocutors remembered that time with such admiration and enthusiasm that we wanted to hear more. Valentin Akudovich, Vladimir Kolos, Nikolai Khalezin, Anatoly Gulyaev, Andrei Vardomatsky, Valery Kostyugova — they were talking about that epoch in such a way that it became infinitely enviable. They lived in that time and saw everything with their own eyes, and what is more important, they participated and created it!
So we decided to write down all these stories, not trying to look for the truth. We just wanted to know more about the Belarus of the late 1980s and, perhaps, understand what happened then.

Personally for me, this book is my ongoing conversation with my father, as nothing is lost forever, it just remains in us.

Dmitry Brushko
, the son of Sergei Brushko.
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