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PERMANENT REVOLUTION: work by Boris Mikhailov

14 June 2018

PERMANENT REVOLUTION, an exhibition of Ukrainian contemporary art, opens in Ludwig Museum in Budapest. This is the first wide-scale museum presentation of Ukrainian contemporary art to the European audience.

About work "The Red Series" (Color Photography, 1968–1975) by Boris Mikhailov:

The Red Series is one of the most famous early projects of Boris Mikhailov. The photos were taken in the artist’s hometown, Kharkiv. Red color is the accent of the project. It is the powerful symbol of the revolutionary struggle, which in a certain moment was inflated by the Soviet officials and permeated the everyday lives of people to such an extent that it became almost invisible and unnoticed. Today, when looking at Mikhailov’s works, we see the incredible redundancy of the red, which totally dominates the visual space of the city and fills all aspects of its life.

Boris Mikhaylov Tne Red series

“I happened to “research” the Soviet life in its last 30 (out of 70) years until the dissolution of the Soviet state and, probably, this research indeed adds the missing features and elements into the historical chronicle. It is similar to the cinema – in Soviet documentaries, reportages, and chronicles you see a demonstration with satisfied, happy, and strong people, but then you watch Marlen Khutsiev’s July Rain, in which the heroine feels particularly bad during the demonstration, and it is the other memory of the demonstrations, although it is one and the same history. It is the same with the photography – history lives in the assembly of the official photographic information and the Soviet underground. What task the underground photographers and artists had?

Without awareness, we were engaged in balancing of the excessive Soviet; at the same time, you had to find such means that you would not be imprisoned. All of this served the main duty – de-glorification of the Soviet. The whole artistic underground process becomes clearer if one consider it from this point of view. We lived in the “mediocre” times when heroism and pathos were lies. De-glorification with ironic and skeptical attitude towards life and ideology was the main component of the era, its historical feeling.”  Boris Mikhailov