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)
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
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.
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