durham-nc

Leonid Lamm

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University

“Birth of an Image” recorded Leonid Lamm’s mid-’70s incarceration in a labor camp near Rostov-on-Don in the former Soviet Union. The sketches and watercolor studies of prison life, a monumental painting, and the elaborate installation Lamm created for this exhibition together raised concerns about Erinnerungs politik, the politics of memory, at both the personal and collective levels. In his foreword to the catalogue, Michael P. Mezzatesta, director of the Duke University Museum of Art, notes that despite a rich literature on the gulags, few visual accounts of the camps by inmates have been available; Lamm’s story is both “one of millions” and unique. The works convincingly deliver the artist’s recollections of the debased existence there, but with their gentle theatricality and the clean, almost slick design of the exhibit, they do not produce quite the same chilling effect as their

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