831
831
JUMP TO LOT
831
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Changing Focus - A Collection of Russian and Eastern European Contemporary Photography

|
London

Boris Mikhailov
B.1938
TWENTY-THREE WORKS FROM BY THE GROUND SERIES
Sepia toned silver prints. Each signed and titled on the reverse. These works are from an edition of 7.
Quantity: 23
Largest image12 by 29.5 cm ( 4 3/4  by 11 5/8  in. ), largest sheet 15.8 by 29.7 cm ( 6 1/4  by 11 3/4  in.); smallest 12.7 by 29.8 cm ( 5 by 11 3/4  in.) 
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Exhibited

Boris Michajlov, Kunsthalle Zürich, Zurich, 1995 (another edition exhibited)

Boris Mikhailov: Retrospective, Institute of Contemporary Art. Boston, 2005 (another edition exhibited)

Boris Mikhailov: Time is Out of Joint, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, 2012 (another edition exhibited)

Literature

Brigitte Kölle (ed.), Boris Michajlov, Kunsthalle Zürich; Oktagon Verlag, 1995

Boris Mikhailov, By the Ground/At Dusk, Cologne, 1996

Gilda Williams, Boris Mikhailov 55, London, 2001

Urs Stahel (ed.), Boris Mikhailov: A Retrospective, Zurich, 2003, ill. p. 144, 149

Victor Tupitsyn, The Museological Unconscious, Cambridge, MA, 2009, ill. p. 155

Catalogue Note

By the Ground is one of Boris Mikhailov’s seminal series consisting of over a hundred photographs. As part of his project to depict the realities of everyday life in the failing state, he photographed the streets of his native Kharkov from ‘worm’s-eye’ perspective, literally from ground level. In contrast to the elevated bird’s-eye tradition, this alternative view evokes insignificance in an ironic Kafkaesque manner. Unlike the view of a detached observer, Mikhailov’s angles, accomplished with a 120 degrees horizon camera, suggest proximity to his subject matter and his creeping reportage offers an unexpected insight into the habitual existence of his characters.

Executed in 1991, shortly after the breakdown of the Soviet Union, By the Ground explores life in the context of economic and political uncertainty, failed dreams and welfare support. As poverty and unemployment rose dramatically, homelessness suddenly became a common sight in the cities of the newly independent republics. This state of collapse is captured in his photographs of tramps alongside decrepit buildings and idle passersby, and the drunk alongside the dying. According to the artist, the work was inspired by Maxim Gorky’s famous play Lower Depths (1902), which describes the life of impoverished Russians living in a homeless shelter. By the Ground explores a similar issue almost a century later, accentuating the failures of the Soviet state to deliver on its promises of change and prosperity. Mikhailov photographs both inside and out, big streets, small alleyways and unpaved roads, providing an unconventional map of the city. Depicting the lowest depths of society, he offers ground as a commonality between people in their shared struggle.

 By the Ground was awarded the Coutts Contemporary Art Foundation Award in 1996. An edition of the work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Changing Focus - A Collection of Russian and Eastern European Contemporary Photography

|
London