33booksforanotherbelarus 33booksforanotherbelarus

While I was waiting (2017-2019)


Julia Autz

About the book

Alexander Lukashenko has ruled Belarus for almost 30 years. A generation has grown up that does not know its homeland without the authoritarian president. What does it mean to grow up under these circumstances? What is it like to live in a country where the development of liberal-democratic values is prohibited? Due to the ongoing repression, there are fewer and fewer people who rebel and resist. Those who remain are adapting, fleeing into indifference or preserving freedom within. Passive, disillusioned and helpless, they have to come to terms with the rules of the regime. In my work I show young people striving for individuality, which is not exactly desired in Belarus. People who are discriminated against because of their political views, sexual orientation or simply because of a different way of thinking and living. People who do not follow the state plan and go their own way - a different way than the one prescribed by society. Self-realization can obviously only take place in the private sphere. In public space, on the other hand, people are forced to conform, and there is a constant feeling of fear and surveillance. Secluded within their own four walls, they concentrate on their own lives, trying to block out reality and preserve their inner freedom. Using intimate portraits of people in their personal environment, I give an insight into the lives of young people and show what it means and how it feels to live under these circumstances. The pictures for the series "While I was waiting" were taken in the time before the protests and show people's life situation: a hopeful waiting for change.

About the author

Julia Autz studied communication design in Darmstadt and completed her master's degree in photography at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Bielefeld. She has been working in the post-Soviet space for many years, with the focus of her work always being on the younger generation. In 2018, she received the Robert Bosch Foundation's "Grenzgänger" scholarship. For the series "While I was waiting" she was awarded the 1st prize of the Vonovia Award for Photography in 2021.

Production status

The Belarusian version has to be translated, typeset and printed.