The Bristows Saturday Talks
Lasting approximately 30 minutes these talks are free, and take place at 8 Great Newport Street, London WC2H.
Saturday 15 April 15.00 with David Brittain
In reviewing Boris Mikhailov's Case History, David Brittain described the publication as "one of the truly remarkable documentary photography projects of the late twentieth century". Editor of DPict and of the recently published Creative Camera: 30 Years of Writing, David Brittain highlights the connections between the artist, society and his subjects in the work of Boris Mikhailov.
Saturday 20 May 15.00 with Jeremy Millar
This afternoon Jeremy Millar, curator of Boris Mikhailov, discusses his selection of work in this show. Responding both to the critical reception of the exhibition and to earlier talks in this series, he considers the brutal yet honest regard with which Mikhailov approaches his human subjects
Friday 5 May 2000 19.00
Ukrainian Contexts with Marta Kuzma
Boris Mikhailov's practice over the last 30 years has been specifically located in relation to his home country of the Ukraine. This evening Marta Kuzma considers his practice from the late 1960's, discussing his work in the wider contexts of Ukrainian culture. Marta Kuzma is currently the Director of the Washington Project for the Arts/Corcoran, and is editing the publication Transcending the Borders: Contemporary Art in Ukraine in the 90s. She was previously the founding Director of the Soros Centre for Contemporary Art in Kiev, where she curated Boris Mikhailov: A Retrospective.
Wednesday 17 May 2000 19.00 Dreamworld and Catastrophe with Susan Buck-Morss The dream of the twentieth century was the construction of mass utopia. At the opening of a new century, this dream is being left behind and challenged by the disintegration of European socialism, capitalist restructuring, and ecological constraints. Stressing the similarities between the East and West and using the end of the Cold War as her point of departure, Susan Buck-Morss examines both extremes of dreamworld and catastrophe that we can see under investigation in the work of Boris Mikhailov.
Based at Cornell University, Susan Buck-Morss is on the Advisory Board of October and her publications include The Origin of Negative Dialectics and The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project. Her current research has just been published by MIT Press in Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West.
Tickets for Photovocal are Â£5/Â£3.50 members and concessions.
To book telephone 020 7831 1772 or email email@example.com
The next talk in the Photovocal series is with Olu Oguibe, an artist, critic and curator who is Chair in African Art at the University of South Florida, Tampa. Olu Oguibe is co-editor of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art and most recently he has co-edited Reading the Contemporary: African Art from Theory to the Marketplace. See Great 30 for more information.
7 APRIL-21 MAY
N. 5 and 8 Great New Port Street
"In my work, I identify with the period and the process our country is going through.' That the photographs of Boris Mikhailov have, for over thirty years, explored the position of the individual within the historical workings of public ideology is unsurprising, given how he started. A technical engineer by training, he was introduced to the camera in his late Twenties when he was officially requested to make an educational film about the factory in which he worked. It was not long after this that the KGB found some nude photographs which Mikhailov had taken of his wife and, as such images were deemed pornographic and therefore banned, he was immediately removed from his job. He decided that he would devote himself to photography from then on and, in the intervening decades, he has become, along with his old friend Ilya Kabakov, one of the most important artists to have emerged from the former Soviet Union.
Since then, Mikhailov has always worked in series and a broad range of these are included in this exhibition, his first solo show in a public gallery in Britain. All of them explore the position of the individual within the sphere of a public ideology, whether communism or capitalism. This is evident in the Red Series (1968-75), where Mikhailov documents the slogans and symbols of the Soviet era as heroic backdrops to the mundanities of everyday life, and Private Series, which is more intimate, less public, but where the official iconography of the Soviet state can still be seen behind people as they dance or socialise within their own apartments. Crimean Snobbery, from the mid-1970s, is a more poetic meditation upon friendship and love, appearing almost like faded stills from a forgotten film of the nouvelle vague. In all these works, however, we find the same concerns: 'the past, relation to tradition, recent and long gone, the relation between what is social and what is personal, the sphere of the public and the sphere of the intimate', as critic Lech Lechowicz has noted.
These themes reappear in Case History (1999) arguably his most important work. Both unflinching and despairing, this project explores the break-up of the Soviet Union by focussing on its human consequences, the bomzhes, or homeless. The familiar figures of much 'humanitarian' social documentary, the homeless in Mikhailov's pictures become players in some existential tragedy, given money by the artist to be photographed, sometimes clothed, sometimes naked, or somewhere in between. The manipulation of people with money has become a new form of social relation in the former USSR - in this sense it has 'caught up' with the 'West' - and it is a relation which has infiltrated this project to its ice-cold heart. Perhaps at no other time has a photographer approached human subjects with such an unflinching, morally complex, and powerful gaze.
Boris Mikhailov was born in 1938 in Kharkov, Ukraine, where he continues to live and work. In recent years, he has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Kunsthalle, Zurich, Portikus, Frankfurt, and the Sprengel Museum, Hannover."
Photovocal continues in 2000 to investigate key issues in the production and reception of photography, looking to address the importance of the photographic image within cultural and historical contexts.
For information about past Talks and Events visit our archive of Talks and Events or contact Lisa Le Feuvre, Programme Organiser (Talks and Events).
The Photographers' Gallery
5 & 8 Great Newport Street
London WC2H 7HY
Telephone +44 020 7831 1772 Fax +44 020 7836 9704 Minicom +44 020 7379 6057