AMSTERDAM.- Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam presents Boris Mikhailov - a Retrospective, on view through June 19, 2005. Foam presents a broad survey of the work of Boris Mikhailov. The Ukrainian Mikhailov is widely recognised as one of today’s leading photographers. He has received the Coutts Contemporary Art Award, the Hasselblad Award and the prestigious Citibank Photography Prize. Over the years, Mikhailov has produced an extremely diverse oeuvre which inspires, irritates and has even been considered disturbing. The exhibition covers a period of 35 years: from the ‘developed’ socialism of the 1970s to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990-91 and the subsequent Wild East period, until Mikhailov eventually moved from Ukraine to the West in the late 1990s.
Until the early 1990s little or nothing had been shown of Mikhailov’s work. As an unofficial photographer he had no permission from the Soviet apparatus to take pictures of particular themes. Many Soviet citizens also imposed their own self-censorship, making it difficult to take photographs. His work was therefore shown only on a modest scale to a small circle. Yet these presentations often led to heated discussions between artists and photographers.
Mikhailov’s considerable oeuvre focuses both on everyday life in the communist utopia and on the direct human consequences of the Soviet Union’s implosion. In his photography, his focus is often on people who have fallen by the wayside in the new, chaotic social order, such as outcasts, the homeless and alcoholics. As a conceptual documentary maker he brings his lens to bear on those who live a different kind of life, in a twilight world. The contrast between the artificial heroism of Soviet life and contemporary society is portrayed by Mikhailov with a combination of humour and gravitas. It is precisely this that raises his subject matter from the specific, turning it into a timeless, universal document about humanism and capitalism, humanity and inhumanity.
The exhibition is being curated by the Fotomuseum Winterthur/Switzerland. Foam is supported by T-Mobile and the VandenEnde Foundation.