Tanks and tulips: a vibrant look at Victory Day celebrations in Minsk
9 May is a significant day across the post-Soviet world, marking the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War. Victory Day is the first of two major celebrations in Belarus, followed by Independence Day on 3 July, which commemorates not freedom from the USSR but the liberation of Minsk from Nazi forces. Documenting these national holidays over two years, Belarusian photographer Alexandra Soldatova reflects: “For me it’s more interesting to understand what ‘forces’ so many people not just to go out into the streets and square to eat and drink, but really rejoice.” Each year on Victory Day her and her family would bring flowers to Victory Square in honour of her grandfather. For her, the association with 9 May has always been with the coming of spring, and her photos show how easily the flag of Belarus blends in with the surrounding flowerbeds and greenery, as if nature too has been called upon to take part. On the other hand, Testosterone, the title of the series, draws on the military hardware on display. “It seems to me that it would be difficult to get a more suitable moment to arrange a holiday of ‘power’ and ‘strength’. This is the time of the year when miracles happens, everything blooms and comes alive, begins to grow rapidly and assuredly, regardless of whether we want it to or not. It is something in nature, with which one cannot argue and which cannot be stopped; as a result all you can really do is put one foot in front of the other and lace up your white ribbons a little tighter,” the photographer comments.