Project

Decor in Post-Soviet Communal Hallways: Why Do They Do It

Belarusian photographer Aliaksandr Kalenik captured the communal hallways in the apartment buildings of his native Minsk to show how people are fighting their phobias by decorating their walls and staircases.

Aliaksandr Kalenik Age 29

Belarusian photographer, was born and lives in Minsk. Majored in history, has worked in sales for a long time. Works with Belarusian web-portals tut.by and tam.by. Has been doing photography since 2013.

— I planned Claustrophobia as a short study of communal spaces — hallways in Minsk apartment buildings. It was supposed to answer a question why people want to expose the personal so much, put it in the social space to change in accordance with their aesthetic preferences. However, to be honest, I didn’t find the answer — while working on the project, I realized that I worded my question wrong, and that the project should hardly be short-term. I came to the conclusion that I should be asking not about the aesthetic, but about the psychological perception of the environment that these people have. I thought that I should really be looking for a phobia that the person wants, if not to overcome, then at least minimize by manipulating the surrounding space.

Living in a typical apartment block building and seeing this environment daily, I realized that it made me feel claustrophobic. I think I am not alone in my fear, otherwise the walls of the hallways would be clean. Our hallways are ‘claustrophobogenic’ in a way. It may be the reason why we are so drawn to decorating them, expanding them, let the light in, inhabit them with images.

Living in a typical apartment block building and seeing this environment daily, I realized that it made me feel claustrophobic.
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I started this project as part of the learning course Photo Project: From Idea to Promotion, taught by the Belarusian Association of Journalists. It is curated by Belarusian photojournalist Sergey Balai, and mentored by Mikhail Domozhilov and Sergei Stroitelev.

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