|The first U.S. retrospective of Ukrainian photographer Boris Mikhailov features over 500 photographs drawn from his most important series.|
Mikhailov was not formally trained as a photographer; rather, he became an artist by chance after he was fired from his engineering job when the KGB found nude photos he had taken of his wife. Thus began Mikhailov’s often transgressive career, whereby he would frequently subvert Soviet rules about photography--the ban on nudity being one of them.
Boris Mikhailov, From the series Luriki, USSR (detail), 1971-85
© Boris Mikhailov
Photo courtesy of Institute of Contemporary Art
Mikhailov has lived almost his whole life in Kharkov, Ukraine, and the city has served as a constant inspiration for his work. By the Ground (1991) is a series of sepia-toned, panoramic photographs that he shot from waist level of street scenes in Kharkov and Moscow. One of Mikhailov's most controversial series, Case History (1997-98), consists of approximately 500 photographs of the large homeless community in Kharkov, which has appeared since the dismantling of Communism. These graphic, difficult images depict the ailing, sick bodies of the so-called bomzhes, who Mikhailov would often pay to pose for him.
Boris Mikhailov was born in Kharkov in the Ukraine in 1938. He has received the Coutts Contemporary Art Award, the Hasselblad Award, and the Citibank Photography Prize, and his exhibitions include the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv, the 1994 Rotterdam Biennale, and the Kunsthalle Zurich.
Institute of Contemporary Art Web Site