Boris Mikhailov

Boris Mikhailov was born in 1938 in Kharkov, Ukraine, and today lives and works between Ukraine and Berlin. Since the 1960s, his camera lens has documented the history and stories of his native country, which was impacted first by the communist regime and then by its difficult social and economic recovery. In the Red Series (1968–75), for example, the colour red is key, referring explicitly to the pervasive presence of the communist regime in people’s everyday lives. In the series Luriki, on the other hand, Mikhailov applies colours to black and white photographic negatives, illustrating in an ironic way how soviet propaganda artifically enlivened monotonous, grey scenes of proletariat life. Case History, a corpus of 400 photographs published in the form of a book in 1999, portays the life of the bomzhes, the homeless people of Karkhov, the first victims of systematic social oppression. The body, often nude, is the true protagonist of his work, allowing the intimate life and vulnerability of his subjects to shine through, provoking reflections on sexuality, old age and death.

Recent exhbitions of his work have been held at Madre, Napoli (2015), CAMERA - Centro Italiano per la Fotografia, Turin (2015), Sprengel Museum, Hannover (2013) and Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York (2011). His work was shown at Palazzo Grassi in the exhibition ‘The World Belongs to You’ (2011-12).