Photography

Mikhailov, Boris (1938)

Boris Mikhailov first began taking pictures of his wife and of his friends in their daily life including when drinking or nude. When nude pictures of his wife were found at his job in the Kharkov factory, he was fired: nudity photography was forbidden in the Soviet era which, by controlling nakedness, controlled people: ‘guilt was linked with nakedness. Since everyone was naked, everyone was guilty. We were made to feel ashamed of our bodies.’ It was then that he decided to take up the camera full time. He thus documented the turmoil of life under the Soviets but also after the period when the break-up of the Soviet Union led to a dramatic social disintegration. In the 1970s, he mimicked propaganda with hand-colored images to denounce the artificial brightening of dark existences. Within the austere environment of his town, Kharkov, the Russian photographer  highlighted the devastating poverty of the homeless in a series entitled Case History. A series almost too difficult to look at with its naked men, women and children and their distorted bodies - ‘It is a disgraceful world, populated by some creatures that were once humans, but now these living beings are degraded, ghastly, appalling.’ With his harsh photographs, Boris Mikhailov demonstrated how much shame had nothing to do with nudity but more with the degradation individuals were confronted to because of the Soviet ideology.
 

Boris Mikhailov, Black Archive, c. 1968-1979
Boris Mikhailov, Black Archive, c. 1968-1979
Boris Mikhailov, Black Archive, c. 1968-1979
Boris Mikhailov, Black Archive, c. 1968-1979
Boris Mikhailov, Case History, c. 1998-1999
Boris Mikhailov, Case History, c. 1998-1999
Boris Mikhailov, Case History, c. 1997-1998
Boris Mikhailov, Case History, c. 1997-1998
Boris Mikhailov, Case History, c. 1997-1998
Boris Mikhailov, Case History, c. 1997-1998
Boris Mikhailov, Case History, c. 1997-1998
Boris Mikhailov, Case History, c. 1997-1998
Boris Mikhailov, Case History, c. 1997-1998
Boris Mikhailov, Case History, c. 1997-1998
Boris Mikhailov, Case History, c. 1997-1998
Boris Mikhailov, Case History, c. 1997-1998
Boris Mikhailov, Case History, 1999
Boris Mikhailov, Case History, 1999
Boris Mikhailov, Football, 2000
Boris Mikhailov, Football, 2000
Boris Mikhailov, From Red Series, c. 1968-1975
Boris Mikhailov, From Red Series, c. 1968-1975
Boris Mikhailov, Look at Me I Look at Water, c. 1999-2000
Boris Mikhailov, Look at Me I Look at Water, c. 1999-2000
Boris Mikhailov, Superimposition II, 2007
Boris Mikhailov, Superimposition II, 2007
Boris Mikhailov, Superimposition, 2007
Boris Mikhailov, Superimposition, 2007
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled,  2007
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, 2007
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, from the series At Dusk, 1993
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, from the series At Dusk, 1993
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, 1991
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, 1991
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, Yesterday's Sandwich, c. 1960-1970
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, Yesterday's Sandwich, c. 1960-1970
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, 1991
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, 1991
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, from the series At Dusk, 1993
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, from the series At Dusk, 1993
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, from the series At Dusk, 1993
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, from the series At Dusk, 1993
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, 1991
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, 1991
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, from the series Case History, c. 1997-1998
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, from the series Case History, c. 1997-1998
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, Yesterday's Sandwich, c. 1960-1970
Boris Mikhailov, Untitled, Yesterday's Sandwich, c. 1960-1970
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