Thirty years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden presents works by Boris Mikhailov, whose artistic stance displays a strong influence by the political and social changes of that time while also representing an important contemporary voice.
Boris Mikhailov was born in 1938 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Today he is regarded as one of the most important artists in contemporary photography. Since the 1960s he has been experimenting with the possibilities of the medium through his performative-conceptual approach. The human body – including that of the artist himself – is at the centre of his artistic practice, and he fuses the dark with the humorous. By combining critical thinking with a playful approach, he often takes his subjects to the limits of normative showability.
Not recognised as an official artist in the Soviet Union, he worked in private for a long time and created a body of work that engaged critically with the political system and its pictorial representations. This included turning to scenes of everyday life, which were excluded from these official representations. He gained international recognition in the 1990s when he focused on those who were losing out in the fundamental changes that took place in the political and social system. His works depicting homeless people in Kharkiv are especially shocking due to their stark and unsparing imagery.
His exploration of the human body as a site of social inscriptions is accompanied by his complicity with the people in front of and behind the camera as well as a self-reflexive, analytical-ironical approach, which shows his proximity to the Moscow Conceptualists.
The large-scale exhibition »The Space Between Us« at Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden assembles numerous series of works spanning the time from 1965 to today, and focuses on precisely that pronounced conceptualism underlying Boris Mikhailov’s body of work.
The exhibition is curated by Luisa Heese. Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, will publish an artist’s book with numerous illustrations.