NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ.-
From October 3, 2009 to March 28, 2010, the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum
at Rutgers presents Four Perspectives Through the Lens: Soviet Art Photography in 1970-1980s, a selection of 70 rarely seen photographs by four major artists working in the Soviet Union in the two decades before the fall of Communism. The works are drawn from the museum's Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Soviet Nonconformist Art, the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of Soviet dissident art from the historical Cold War period.
The oeuvres of Francisco Infante, Vladimir Kupriyanov, Boris Mikhailov, and Alexander Slyusarev demonstrate four different approaches to photography at a time when the outsider status of art photography in the Soviet Union allowed great creative freedom and presented wide opportunities for experimentation. In the 1970s and 1980s, the medium was not officially considered art, nor taught in art schools in the Soviet Union, because it was regarded as a documentary tool at the service of state propaganda.
"Unrestricted by professional conventions or censorship, Soviet photographers made exceedingly canny, inventive, and highly individual use of the medium, expressing ideas that were both specific and universal in character," says Julia Tulovsky, Assistant Curator, Russian and Soviet Nonconformist Art, at the Zimmerli Art Museum.
On view are elegant formalist photographs by Alexander Slyusarev, where shadows, light and reflections transform reality into abstract patterns. Images by Boris Mikhailov, who is regarded as the founder of Russian conceptual photography, document the 1970s and 1980s, translating them into art photographs that are often charged with political and social criticism. Highly individual, penetrating works by Vladimir Kupriyanov are based on documentary photographs that are transformed by conceptual and fine art strategies. Performative photographs created by Francisco Infante, an artist with long-standing interest in kinetic and land art, capture momentary artistic events staged in the landscape that he calls Artifacts.
Combining four very different perspectives, the exhibition offers opportunities for comparing and cross-referencing approaches to social themes, cultural and art historical associations, and the various photographic techniques and artistic effects.
"Rutgers is incredibly fortunate to have the Dodge Collection as a resource for understanding the Soviet experience from 1956 to 1986, and the strategies employed to create vanguard art in that setting," says Suzanne Delehanty, director of the Zimmerli Art Museum.