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BORIS MIKHAILOV. THE BOOKS. 1968-2012

Artist: Boris Mikhailov
Exhibition: 24.02.2013 - 20.05.2013
Exhibitor: Sprengel Museum Hannover
Sprengel Museum Hannover on art-report
City: Hannover
Homepage: Sprengel Museum Hannover

With Boris Mikhailov , the Stiftung Niedersachsen is honouring one of the most extraordinary photographers of the present day. On the occasion of his being awarded the prestigious “SPECTRUM” prize, the Sprengel Museum Hannover will be showing the exhibition BORIS MIKHAILOV. THE BOOKS. 1968-2012 in the spring of 2012.
 
It is the artist’s most comprehensive retrospective to date: Approximately 20 of Mikhailov’s picture cycles explicitly portray him for the first time as a ‘bookmaker,’ as someone who conceives and develops his works in book form.
 
Born in 1938 in the former Soviet Union in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Boris Mikhailov is seen as a chronicler of his native country, devoting comprehensive picture cycles to everyday life in Soviet and post-Soviet society. Mikhailov takes photographs wherever the social is visible in the private and the private in the social – on streets, at the beach, at dances.
 
The photographs become the underlying material for Mikhailov’s questionings of the polity and examinations of the conditions for human existence. In the process, his own biography serves as a point of reference: the act of photography and the balance of power concealed within it are reflected.
 
Boris Mikhailov attained pop status in the USSR of the late 1970s with works like the installation Yesterday's Sandwich / Superimpositions (1968-1975), in which he projected two overlapping slides each, underlying them with music by Florian Merkel. The numerous overlappings of signs, colours and forms offer a nearly psychedelic sensory experience in which the intimate, the private and the public can no longer be separated from each other. This slide show will now be exhibited again after more than two decades.
 
Working in wide-ranging series and in book form are similarly strategies with which Mikhailov counteracts a normative truth. He has also been working with writing since the early 1980s and more recently, as will be shown in Hannover for the first time, with drawing as well. The restrictive forms of public life that existed in the USSR lead to focusing his work on books of original photographs. The easily transportable book object, which could be discussed elsewhere with friends and also be concealed from prying eyes, is – until the late 1980s – the final work form.
 
The extraordinary feature of Mikhailov’s work as a ‘bookmaker’ is that he conceives and develops photographs in sequences and series, in intermediate spaces and sections, in the forms of montage. Seen as a whole, the original photographic books and layouts, many of which exist solely in a single copy, give rise to a very unusual, intimate retrospective. Selected larger-scale works will furthermore be presented.


Artists: Boris Mikhailov