Boris Mikhailov

ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

The twenty-six photographic series that Ukrainian photographer Boris Mikhailov made between the late 1960s and 2002 (all but three of which are represented in this exhibition) include several varieties of homemade antidote to official Soviet visual culture as well as negotiations—some shaky, some masterful—with the many new “freedoms” of the post-Soviet world. Though the series vary enormously in format, technique, and strategy, Mikhailov’s interests in the individual rather than the type, immediacy rather than distance, and the everyday rather than the ceremonial remain constant throughout, constituting a direct challenge to what Boris Groys might call “the Soviet promotion machine.”

In the large sepia prints of “Salt Lake,” 1986, fat, unselfconscious members of the working class are seen bathing in a giant pool of soda-factory effluence near the Ukranian capital of Kharkov.

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