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A haunting time journey :

 Sometimes, the most interesting time journeys happen by chance. This is what happened to Andrei Loginov, when he heard the story of an abandoned house of a photographer in a Belarusian village. Imagine a village, where life revolves around the collective farm (kolkhoz) and the young generation has moved to the city, in search of a better life. Nevertheless, some residents still remembered visits to the photographer in the valley. When they were children this was where they had their pictures taken with their family members, festively dressed for the special occasion. Now, they were telling Andrei Loginov about an aura of strangeness they had felt when having their physiognomies eternalised and they showed him the way to the dilapidated, abandoned house of the photographer. The artist found the house amidst fast-growing undergrowth with some old fruit trees still standing.

The roof of the house had already partially collapsed, yet under the photographer’s bed Andrei Loginov found a real treasure: several boxes of glass negatives and a landscape photo backdrop. Some of the negatives had remained intact, others were broken or mouldy due to the moisture that had penetrated the house. The photographer had worked through the 1930s to 50s. With time, the faces and silhouettes of the people photographed had become blurred and indistinct; they seemed to disappear or - on the contrary – to appear like ghosts. The glass negatives show villagers posing in front of a painted landscape backdrop. They all have serious expressions on their faces, as if they knew they were going down in history.

All of a sudden, Andrei Loginov had touched the history of this Belarusian village, he was literally holding it in his hands. He had become an explorer, a time traveller who could connect the past with the present. "Charomushki Odyssey" was what he called the project, emphasising the unusually ghostly aspect of his time journey.

The project comprises three components from different time layers: the old glass negatives, the landscape photo backdrop and the newly taken black and white photographs. After having rescued all these valuables from the photographic workshop, Andrei Loginov started to photograph todays villagers in front of the found photo backdrop. He sensitively listened to their stories and became more and more familiar with the village history.

In the context of Andrei Loginov's "Charomushki Odyssey", therefore, both - the new photographs and the relics found in the abandoned house - are equally significant. The materiality of the glass negatives and the photographic backdrop evoke memories that stimulate the viewer's imagination. The project poses questions about macro-history and border shifts (the village belonged to Poland before the Second World War), and about the micro-history of the inhabitants of this village - when the photo workshop was still operating just as much as today.

Thus, "Charomuscki Odyssey" tells a visual story about the fate of the inhabitants of a particular village (since the historical photographs were taken, the area has experienced collectivisation, World War II, the Soviet Union, Lukashenko's time). This harsh history is reflected in the faces of the people standing in front of the camera: their fates, however, are universalised against the background of historical and contemporary events. The materiality of the old photographs, the glass negatives and the photographic backdrop, are also central as non-human actors: their sheer presence tells the story without words.

Andrei Loginov, who discovered the photographer's abandoned house and continued to work photographically with the present-day inhabitants of the village, not only undertook a journey through time himself, but also takes us - the recipients of the project - along. The artist slipped into the role of the village photographer and continued his task. With the means of photography he looped time: contemporary people are photographed in front of an old photo backdrop as if they were taking the places of those who posed in the 1930-50s. 


Marta Smolińska (2023)


Installation view, PF Gallery, Zamek, Poznań, 2023

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