Felix Adler

If the Soviet Union still existed, it would presumably look like contemporary Belarus. A larger-than-life Lenin stands in a speaker’s pose in front of the parliament building. The country is subject to a planned economy; the secret service is called the KGB and capital punishment is still carried out. Free elections are unknown. For the past 25 years, Europe’s last dictatorship has been led by Alexander Lukashenko, former CPSU functionary and collective-farm director. In geopolitical terms, Belarus stands at a crossroads: big brother Russia is pushing for a union and threatening to cancel generous oil discounts. However, China is investing heavily in Belarus as well. In fact, the People’s Republic is building an enormous industrial park near Minsk. Belarus is meant to become the end point of the New Silk Road and China’s gateway to Europe – without those complicated EU laws. At the same time, Belarus has increasingly developed into a big player in the IT industry. Apps and software solutions from the dictatorship are now coveted in the West.

  • Digitisation
  • The Future
  • Work
3 Questions
1. The door opener: Can you describe a formative moment in your career as a visual journalist?

Oh, it’s hard to say. I studied history and actually ended up in photography by chance. I didn’t want to work as a historian, so I reapplied for a photography programme. Maybe the defining moment came in 2013, when I spent two months in Kosovo working on a study project. While I was there, I met a Portuguese journalist. He asked me whether I would take photos for one of his stories. I sold the pictures to the dpa and thought wow, what a cool job: you go somewhere, take photos and get money for them, it’s almost like being on holiday. Well, in the end of course it isn’t quite like that.

2. The decisive moment: When did you first encounter your topic and why did you decide to cover it photographically?

I only knew Belarus from the name. And I knew that in the press it is always described as Europe’s last dictatorship. I had always wanted to visit the country and then, when I found out about a small research grant for Eastern Europe, I took the opportunity and applied with the topic of the growing IT scene in Belarus.

3. The future: What could the visual journalism of the future be like?

I’m no prophet, but I think there will be more and more experimental approaches in visual journalism. Of course, the classic documentary will still be important.

The work of photographer Felix Adler was created in cooperation with journalist Stefan Schocher. The photos are supplemented by a written report, which the author Stefan Schocher has recorded as an audio file.

Curated by Jan Nasemann

© for all photos by the photographers
© for all videos Lumix Festival Hanover, if not indicated otherwise.

*1984 in Jena, Germany
Felix Adler studied History, Art History, Politics and Photography at the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design in Halle. His documentary projects concentrate primarily on memory and identity. His photos have appeared in Focus, Monopol, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Vice, DIE WELT and other publications. He currently lives in Leipzig, where he works as an independent photojournalist.


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