Dreams of Minsk: A Journey through Aesthetics of Utopia within a European Experience

Heloisa Rojas Gomez


Minsk, the capital city of Belarus, is in search of a cultural text. As writers and artists have done for many today iconic cities, Artur Klinau provides Minsk with such text, in his book Minsk: The Sun City of Dream. The aim of the present article is to explore and interpret this text, approaching it through cultural semiotics.

In Klinau’s literary work, notions of architecture, art, history, philosophy intertwine with personal memory and aesthetic experiences, drawing the exceptional image of a Soviet utopian city with a soul of “provincial sentimentalism”. At the periphery of the Russian and then Soviet Empires, after the Cold War East-West divide, Minsk developed a nostalgia “for something which is not”: Europe. This text shows how Minsk, with its ‘Eastern’ heritage, is instead deeply rooted in Europe.

Addressing many aspects of Minsk’s and Belarus’ historical identity, Klinau shows also the tension between the city and the Empire, manifesting its coercion on the urban space in various forms, in a dialectic relation with philosophic and aesthetic traditions of Utopia. As a result, the proposed text bridges between “actual Minsk” and “potential or desired Minsk”, finally letting the city’s oppressed ego meet with its own manifestation.


Key words: Minsk, utopia, city, text, semiotics

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