With a show of works by Boris Mikhailov, born in Ukraine in 1938, the Berlinische Galerie
is acknowledging a major position in contemporary photography. Mikhailov establishes many links between documentation and conceptual art, and in so doing he has also made an important contribution to media theory in terms of the way we look at photography and the history of our responses to it. In the 1990s, everyday meant existential, threatening. When the Soviet Union collapsed, he turned his attention to the losers in this social transformation, taking portraits, displaying poverty and despair, and with that the consequences of the ruthless, repressive Soviet system.
In 2002, Ulrich Domröse was able, as Curator of Photography, to purchase eight works from the series Case History for the Berlinische Galerie. Four works from the Berlin series In the Street followed soon afterwards. Mikhailov, who came to Berlin in 1996 on a DAAD bursary for artists, returned to the city in 2000. Since then he has divided his time between Berlin and his home town of Kharkov in Ukraine. Building on the Berlinische Galerie holdings, an exhibition has been designed that not only reflects the gallerys commitment to collecting contemporary art, but also documents personal relationships with Berlin as a backcloth to artistic experience, while presenting Mikhailovs work through a selection from different series.
Since starting out as a photographer in the mid-1960s, the artist has produced a wide-ranging and impressively multi-facetted oeuvre. A virtuoso, Mikhailov has drawn on very different possibilities presented by the medium, depicting his immediate surroundings with both brutal bluntness and humorous irony. His constant exploration of new photographic techniques, his use of widely varying styles, but also his abilitiy to switch between a conceptual approach and a documentary perspective, make him one of the most interesting artists of the present day.
The exhibition has been conceived as a retrospective and brings together a selection ranging from the experimental photographs of early years to works made recently in Berlin. It is the first comprehensive exhibition of the artists work to be shown in Germany.
David Saik who had already arranged the upper floor of the permanent collection of the museum space was again appointed to conceive the exhibition architecture.