donderdag 7 februari 2013

Imperfection was forbidden Boris Mikhailov Photography

Primrose - Russian Colour Photography
25 January - 3 April 2013

The exhibition Primrose - Russian Colour Photography takes place as part of Netherlands-Russia 2013. The title refers to the primrose flower, used metaphorically here to represent the many colours in which it appears during early spring. Primrose -Russian Colour Photography presents a retrospective of the various attempts in Russia to produce coloured photographic images. This process began in the early 1850s, almost simultaneously with the discovery of the new medium itself. The colouring technique, based on the traditional methods of craftsmen who added colour into a certain contour design, has determined a whole independent trend in the history of photography in Russia, from 'postcard' landscapes and portraits to Soviet propaganda and reportage photography.
The use of colour in Russia stems from the early 1850s and practically coincides with the invention of the medium itself. The term colour photography is slightly disingenuous, since at first it referred to a toning technique in which black and white photographs were painted by hand. Traditionally this technique was used by specialized tradesmen who added colour to the photographs according to certain methods and within the contours of the image. This technique became so popular that it started a trend in and of itself and to a large extent determined the appearance and aesthetics of colour photography in Russia. Initially used especially for portraits, picturalist landscapes and nudes, it later also found favour with avant-garde artists. Interestingly enough these aesthetics also formed the starting point for Soviet propaganda and for portraits, political leaders and reportage.

Primrose - Russian Colour Photography can be viewed as a journey through various techniques and genres, meanings and messages, mass practices and individual experiments. The exhibition contains works by renowned photographers and artists such as Sergey Produkin-Gorsky, Ivan Shagin, Dmitry Baltermants and Robert Diament. But is also shows unique photos of Alexander Rodchenko and Varvara Stephanova, and recent works from the famous Luriki series by Boris Mikhailov, in which he mocked the visual culture of the Soviet propaganda.

"As a photographer with unofficial authority I discover, I observe, I clandestinely stalk." Boris Mikhailov

Born in 1938, Boris Mikhailov is one of the most important photographers to have emerged from the former USSR. Starting photography in the 1960’s his work transgressed the moral and political dictates of the Soviet Regime. Although often engaged in the social disintegration affecting his country his work is subjectively rooted, dealing with the profound concerns of vulnerability and mortality. He has exhibited in numerous galleries and museums around the world notably the Tate Modern,Saatchi GalleryMOMA, and The Photographers’ Gallery, London. His projects Case HistoryThe WeddingUnfinished Dissertation,Look at Me I Look at Water, have been published as books. Boris Mikhailov was the recipient of the prestigious Hasselblad Award in 2000 and the Citibank Photography Prize in 2001.

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