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Flight of fools

Flight of fools: Russian photography today
LONDON  •  White Space Gallery  •  Ongoing
Photography in Russia and the Ukraine had to be restructured after the end of the socialist system. It was able to find its place in the field of art following Western standards, with new tendencies regarding form and content which quickly surpassed painting in terms of modernity. The nineties were marked by this radical change: on the one hand, one was looking back to the constructivism of Rodchenko and on the other hand, forms of staged photography emerged, wich reached as far as tableaux vivant, staged landscape photography, documentary photography and action photography.

In Moscow many important artists started the new era of photography, the main protagonists were the Group AES, Buivid, Chernysheva, Efimov, Group Fenso, Infante father and son, Liberman, Kulik, Mukhin and so on.

There was also special development in Kharkiv in the Ukraine, where in the late sixties, photographers had established themselves in underground art displaying a radical realism. Members of the Vremia group (Bratkov, Mikhailov, Solonsky) not only transformed "permitted" topics - like architecture and labour - but also handled the taboo theme of male nakedness. In Kharkiv, a big Russian Ukrainian industrial town, the photogenic misery is to be found everywhere in the streets: homeless children, casuals, prostitutes, frozen corpses, drunkards, rightwing radical hooligans, wretched old women.

For many years Bratkov worked with Boris Mikhailov, who was older and had already developed his style of radical realism during his underground years in the Vremia group, and he learned to name things without taboo and palliation.

This exhibition includes selected works by photographers artists working in Russia today:

Nikolay Bakharev' s series 'Beach Photography' : black and white portraits of people taken on the beach in Novokuznetsk, the Siberian city where he lives. Bakharev's purpose is to offer his services as a photographer to his (paying) clients, rather than taking pictures for his own collection. The images are consequentaly transformed by this unique relationships.

Sergey Bratkov's 'Italian School' is a series of photographs of young criminals staging a Biblical story play in one of the orphanages in Kharkiv. He is also showing his series 'Princesses', women who have had fertility treatment, holding vials of sperm, with the names of various kings written onto them.

'Junk - fashion' shoot by Vita Buivid (in collaboration with Petlura), an attempt to reclaim surviving scraps of art and, indeed, life, which were suppressed or annihilated during the Soviet regime, and to protect elemen ts of Russian national identity that are fast disappearing under capitalism.

In the 'Anabiosis' series (portraits of fisherman and plants) exhibited here Olga Chernysheva captures the diffuse area of life between the struggle for survival and forms of recreation and pleasure, so often found in an extreme climate such as Russia's.

Oleg Kulik's performance-based photographs 'Family of the future' were taken in the early nineties. He proposes a new vision of the 'Family of the Future' in which the dog, and other animals, are partners to a man. Within the framework of his programme Kulik is attempting a radical rethink of the languages of human culture"

White Space Gallery Web Site

Contact: St Peter's, Vere Street (off Oxford Street)
London W1G ODQ
Tel: (44) 020 8740 46

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