Belgorod, Russia. Introduction

Text and images: Alex Markovich.

Belgorod is the city where I was born.

I won’t go into detailed description of Belgorod as you may find official information (industry, agriculture, etc.) on this city in Wikipedia, Britannica and so on. I would like just to share my personal attitude to Belgorod.

Population (with all its outskirts and adjoining territories): about 400 000.

I was born in Belgorod in 1978 (April, 10) and had a chance to catch it as a typical Soviet place. As I have travelled a lot and visited many Russian cities, towns and villages I can say that Belgorod is a quite good place to live. Those who are not happy with life in Belgorod just had not lived in other places of Russia.

I don’t praise or exalt Belgorod, for me it’s just an ordinary Russian city. I’ve been almost in all its pubs, cafes, pizzerias, and restaurants. I did reportage photography on major cultural events. I had taken over 260 full length videos of theatrical performances of Belgorod theaters (both State Drama Theater and three youth theaters).

I travelled to all towns of Belgorod Oblast and in some places I stayed for a week or more. I’ve got hundreds of pictures of the villages of Belgorod Oblast which offer services of “rural tourism”. And in most of these places I tasted (degusted) high quality hooch made by the locals. I’ve been to various rural festivals and fairs. To cut a long story short I had accumulated so much material (textual, photographic, and artistic) on life and culture of Belgorod that at last I decided to share it.

I think this material on Belgorod would be interesting first of all to foreign students who come to Belgorod to study. Also people who come to Belgorod for short period of time on business trips and so on will find something interesting too.

All the posts on Belgorod and Belgorod Oblast you can find by clicking on the following link:

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Postcards from Russia

An abstract from an interview of Alex Markovich for “Radio of Russia” devoted to his exhibition “Postcards from Russia” which was held in Belgorod Coffee House (Russia) in July and August 2014.

Alex Markovich:

I started the project “Postcards from Russia” in March 2013. Through a special online service I was sending postcards (real postcards, not virtual) to various parts of the world: France, Italy, Japan, US, UK, Australia, etc. Even to Peru and Mongolia.

In my sticky post on my blog I said that everyone could get a postcard with a photo or a painting of a Russian city, landscape, rural area and so on. I had over 14 000 subscribers on my blog, so there were many of those who wanted a postcard. I had some sponsors who paid for postcards delivery – I placed the sponsor’s logo and website on the back of the postcard.

I asked those who received the cards to take a photo of it in their interior. So, on my exhibition “Postcards from Russia” I presented not only my photos and drawings of various Russian cities and towns but also the photos of the received postcards.

The idea was picked up by some fellows from the States who were involved in postcrossing movement. I shared a dozen of my photos and drawings to test the idea. I gave them the images for free; my only requirement was that on every image my website MARKOVICH.TV and the title of the project “Postcards from Russia” had to be placed.

When I was a kid I had a huge collection of pocket calendars (my cousin gave it to me). I also collected postcards and wall calendars as I enjoyed the pictures. Well, 25 years later I began to implement my dreams of creating postcards and calendars with my photos and drawings.

The “Postcards from Russia” exhibition will last till August 2014 and then in September will be moved to one of the biggest cafes of Belgorod, Russia.

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Miksang Photography

An abstract from an interview of Alex Markovich for “Radio of Russia” devoted to his exhibition “Contemplative Photography” which was held in Belgorod State Pushkin Library (Russia) in February and March 2018.

Alex Markovich:

Using the term “Contemplative Photography” I can say that I practiced it being seven years old. I had a film camera with black-and-white film and almost every day I took pictures of scissors, tear away calendar, sunlight on the windowsill or on the curtains. My parents were not happy that I took pictures of the objects and not of my grandparents at whose place I liked to spend most of my leisure time.

In 2014 a lady from the USA commented on my other blog that some pictures which had been presented there could be referred to “Contemplative Photography”. For that moment I had over 500 pictures of sunlight and various abstractions which directly or indirectly belong to that genre.

I searched the net and found the term Miksang. Miksang is a Tibetan word that means “good eye”. One can type in “Miksang” or “Miksang Photography” and as a result will get a number of good sites with good pictures on Contemplative Photography.

I have some friends in the USA who practice Contemplative Photography. I don’t want to say that Miksang is something special and unique. And I can’t say it’s a separate genre or style. It has a lot to do with what is described in Zen or Advaita teachings.

Two of my American friends attended Contemplative Photography courses – that was the result that they were open and ready for world perception on a deeper level.

I have been drawing and taking pictures since my childhood. I love to experiment a lot. When doing reportage photography I do it in the artistic way. When being on a tour to places which offer services of so-called “rural tourism” I bring lots of pictures of water, sunlight, reflections, shadows, etc. – and magazines and Internet portals include many of them in their news timeline as these pictures convey the atmosphere of the place or the event. This is classical Contemplative Photography.

I showed my interest in Miksang speaking in the context of mature age 10 years ago (I was 30). That wasn’t something new; I just began paying more attention to such phenomenon as light or sunlight rather than form.

I am being asked if one could learn Contemplative Photography. I think you can’t teach it everyone. A person should be ready somewhere in the depth of his heart, soul, whatever to ask for it. I recently found a Russian site where a photographer offers to teach you in two weeks Contemplative Photography. Well, you can learn the basics and even the techniques, but nobody will be able to teach you to see.

I called this exhibition “Contemplative Photography” just because of the catchy title. “Abstract Photography” would be fine too. If I used the term “Miksang” nobody would be interested as they don’t know what it is.

I don’t promote “Contemplative Photography” and I always refer to those photos as abstractions. This is my fifth exhibition on Miksang. Three exhibitions were held in the States in 2016 and 2017. The first one was held in Belgorod (Russia) in 2015.

In the States the exhibitions had great success as people in the US are familiar with the term “Contemplative Photography”. The photos in the US keep traveling to other cafes, yoga centers and libraries.

90% of those Miksang pictures were taken with camera phones – you always have your smartphone with you.

This exhibition will keep traveling too. I hope it will get to Moscow by the end of summer. I have presented 24 new photos on it. I think some people will get interested in Contemplative Photography and it would be cool if some of them would try it. Miksang is what you must be ready for.

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Russian Postcards Exhibition

Russian Postcards Exhibition.

By Andre Lavigne (55 y.o., Lyon, France).

In November 2017 a good friend of mine Bernard Fortier offered me to arrange an exhibition of his Russian friend Alex Markovich.

It was neither classical photographs nor paintings exhibition as most cafes do. It was a display of Russian postcards which Bernard had been receiving from Alex for more than two years.

I readily place pictures of various artists and photographers in my café so there were no objections on those postcards. I was confused just with ones thing as those cards were small – not of the regular size artists usually display their pictures at the exhibitions.

We stretched the fabric and pinned those Russian postcards. We made a note that everyone could unpin any card to read what’s on the other side of it but then the postcard should be pinned back.

These postcards from Russia were on display for seven weeks (almost until Christmas). I can say for sure that these postcards had defiantly evoked deep nostalgia in dozens of visitors. The other significance is that most of these showpieces were art postcards, not just regular tourist pictures of Russia.

Alex said that according to his blog statistics he was getting much more direct traffic from France as people were typing whether his URL or search query “Postcards from Russia”.

I know that at least three people are now getting this type of Russian postcards from Alex directly to their mailboxes at least once a month and these fellows are happy.

I think that a postcard is a unique way to promote your art. Alex creates watercolor paintings and if these paintings are exhibited just as a regular artwork in frame – it is just another painting. But converting artworks into postcards is something special. Each postcard has a history of traveling thousands of miles from Russia to France. The surface is scratchy; there is a real post stamp on each card.

I think Alex’s cards are a great find for people involved in postcrossing. I don’t know how postcrossing is developed in Russia but in France it’s quite popular. These Russian postcards combine two elements in themselves: Russian landscapes performed in watercolor technique. What you can find in regular souvenir shops – just classical photographs of the most popular tourist objects.

I think when Gerard and Bernard will have enough Alex’s new postcards we will arrange a new exhibition.

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