"These photographs are dedicated to the Blaue Horse group. This group or movement of young people, many of whom were students in my home city at the end of the 1950s, deep in the Soviet times, loved the Beatles, danced to rock and roll, and dreamt about the freedom of the West. They came under great pressure from the government ... four of them were convicted and went to jail ... for pornography (convicting someone for madness or pornography was one of the ways used to crack down on any opposition). As one of the main proofs, the court was presented with photographs of these young people on the beach, in swimwear, striking "Western" poses. ... I started with my photography about five years later; it was the time when it was forbidden to shoot many- or almost all - thing, but no one kills for it already..." (B.M.)
Boris Mikhailov's actual, retrospektive exhibition in Italy, 'Boris Mikhailov: Ukraine' '... is accompanied by a publication which cannot simply be considered a catalogue. Instead of including the works on show, it is in fact dedicated to a selection of more than 500 photographs gathered by Mikhailov over the years to make up a sort of personal diary. An essay examining the theme addressed in the exhibition – the Ukrainian artist’s ongoing reflections on his homeland – is coupled with various different images, constituting a sort of final room that visitors may explore privately once the visit is over." (...)
The exhibition's 'central theme (...) - made up of over 300 items - is the author’s homeland, Ukraine: recounted, described and deformed over a time span stretching from the ‘60s up to the recent Euromaidan revolution.
The exhibition itinerary thus develops three different directives, each combined and intertwining with the others: the last 50 years of history of Ukraine may be traced, from its Soviet past to independence right up to the latest revolutions, which have brought this country into the media spotlight, making it crucial stage for the dressing of global political and economic balances; Mikhailov’s artistic career, characterised by an endless series of experimentations with a diverse range of media and aesthetics; lastly, it may be noted how the theme of Ukraine has been progressively integrated into Mikhailov’s work, shifting from documentation to reconstruction, from theatricalisation to diary-writing, and from the narrative to the anti-narrative.
'Ukraine' includes 9 series, each representative of a key moment in the articulation of the exhibition themes: Superimpositions (1968-75), Black Archive (1968-79), Red Series (1968-75), Luriki (1976-81), Crimean Snobbism (1981), At Dusk (1993), Case History (1997-98), Tea Coffee Cappuccino (2000-2010) and The Theater of War (2013).
Mikhailov’s images allow us to move through the life and works of one of the key figures in the history of contemporary art, at the same time piecing back together an alternative and personal version of an entire national historiography." (camera.to)
About the photographer:
Boris Mikhailov is a Ukrainian photographer. In Soviet times he worked as an engineer at a factory in Kharkiv while pursuing his passion for photography, which he began exhibiting in the 1960s. After KGB agents discovered his shots of his naked wife, he was accused of distributing pornography. He was forced to leave the factory and make a living with odd jobs, reserving some spare time for art. In his photographic series, Mikhailov addresses social themes, using concrete examples to show the state of society and changes brought by perestroika. In the 1990s Mikhailov began to exhibit in the West and soon received recognition from the international art community. Mikhailov has been awarded numerous international photography prizes. He has had solo exhibitions at major art institutions in the United States and Europe, and his works are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Das Material, welches in Mkhailiov's neuem Buch soeben veröffentlicht worden ist, war ursprünglich nie zur Veröffentlichung bestimmt, sondern lagerte in Kisten. Eben darum handelt es sich um besonders lieb gewordene Schätzchen, weil sie immer wieder - gerade wegen Ihrer Privatheit und trotz intensiver Bearbeitung - aussortiert wurden. Jetzt dienen sie im Katalogband zur Boris Mikhailov's aktueller ausstellung 'Boruis Mikhailov: Ukraine' zur Illustration seiner unangepassten Arbeit während und nach der russischen Soviet-Ära und der vergeblichen 'Orangenen Revolution' in seiner Heimat Ukraine.
"Mikhailov widmet sein Tagebuch ,The Blue Horse’ einer Gruppe junger Ukrainer, die Ende der 1950er Jahre versuchten, die Restriktionen des Sovietregimes zu unterlaufen. Mikhailov sammelte seit den 60er Jahren Fotos in seinem privaten Archiv, die er in einem langen Prozess als Autobiographie zusammenstellte. 50 Jahre eines Lebens sind in den Tagebüchern enthalten: Mikhailov verliert seine Anstellung, wird Künstler, heiratet zwei Mal, hat einen Sohn, zieht nach Deutschland, die Ukraine geht in den Ostblock auf, gewinnt ihre Autonomie zurück, Kommunismus und Kapitalismus tauschen ihre Plätze, die orangene Revolution und die Proteste auf dem Maidan.In „Diary“ berichtet er über sein Leben: historische Ereignisse und vor allem private Erinnerungen. Auf den Seiten finden sich Spuren unterschiedlichster Art: Notizen, Kolorierungen, Ausstreichungen, Kratzer, Flecken und Klebestreifen mit denen er die Fotos fixiert. Entstanden ist eine ergreifenede Chronik, oft rücksichtslos und zynisch getragen von der Liebe zum Leben." (publisher's note)
Mit einem Supplement mit einem Text von Francesco Zanot: "Der Skorpion und die Coca-Cola: Eine Autopsie des Homo Sovieticus"