Lot 98
  • 98

Boris Mikhailov, b.1938

25,000 - 35,000 GBP
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  • Boris Mikhailov
  • a group of 12 photographs from the series U zemli [close to the ground)
  • all signed and titled in Cyrillic on reverse; 6 further numbered 4/7  and dated 91
  • sheet size: smallest 13.5 by 30cm., 5¼ by 11¾in.; largest 19.5 by 29.5cm. 7¾ by 11½in.


Private Collection, USA

Catalogue Note

The series U zemly, or Close to the Ground consists of over one hundred sepia-toned photographs taken between May and June 1991 in the streets of Kiev and Mikhailov's home town of Karkov. The panoramic images were taken with the aid of a horizon camera, which stretches the angle of the shot by expanding the horizon to 120 degrees in order to emphasise the movement of the passers by. The sepia brown of the images evokes the dirt, dust and earth, while at the same time lends a nostalgic feel to the series. Close to the Ground recalls both pre-Revolutionary Russia and Khrushchev's détente of the 1960s, in a method which the artist terms 'parallel historical association'.


The title of Mikhailov's series is also reminiscent of Maxim Gorky's play Na dne (The Lower Depths), which put the lowest strata of tsarist society on the stage for the very first time. There is no conventional plot, merely snapshots of events in the characters' daily existence. Similarly, Mikhailov's photographs document the private lives which had no place in official Soviet propaganda, exploring the position of the individual within the sphere of a public ideology.