Selected works by Boris Mikhailov

Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
Boris Mikhailov, born in 1938 in Kharkov, Ukraine lives and works in the Ukraine and in Berlin. Case History documents Mikhailov’s perception of social disintegration ensuing from the break-up of the Soviet Union – both in terms of social structures and the resulting human condition. Case History documents the social oppression, the devastating poverty, the harshness and helplessness of everyday life for the homeless
Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
“First, these were the people who had recently lost their homes. According to their position they were already the bomzhes (“bomzh” = the homeless without any social support), according to outlook they were simply the people who got into trouble.”
Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
“Now they are becoming the bomzhes with their own class psychology and “clan” features. For me it was very important that I took their photos when they were still like “normal” people. I made a book about the people who got into trouble but didn’t manage to harden so far.”
Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
“I suddenly felt that many people were going to die at that place. And the bomzhes had to die in the first rank, like heroes – as if their lives protected the others’ lives.”
Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
“It is a disgraceful world, populated by some creatures that were once humans, but now these living beings are degraded, ghastly, appalling. This "fauna" is specific especially to the period of quasi-general diffidence, specific for most of the post-communist world.”
Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
“"BOMJI". It is a term made of capital letters, recently coined. It literally refers to those people without a stable residence, practically living in the streets, wherever they can stretch their bones.”
Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
“I took the pictures displaying naked people with their things in hands like people going to gas chambers.”
Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
“What happened on the ruins of the ex-Soviet Empire is still unique. Motivations are different. These guys’ shabbiness is the mirror of the ruin and disappointment of a much larger number of people, most of whom no longer feel safe and wealthy as in the Soviet era; many people’s ideals are gone forever, others have simply gone mad! I have taken pictures of them and I have enjoyed it, and maybe the whole world has a better understanding of the post-communist dramas through these sequences taken directly after nature.”
Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
“This series of photos is a cycle called "Case History", that I might equally call the "clinical file of a disease". It took shape round 1997-1998. A big city, such as Harkov, offered me a great deal of raw material. And I did not miss it, I did not ignore it.”
Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
“I tried to capture the feeling of their helplessness, of their social oppression; I once witnessed a scene whereby a strong young man caviled at a poor guy passing by and kicked him hard. I even thought I had heard the poor man’s bones break. Nobody noticed it, either those nearby, or the militia man patrolling close by. I felt guilty, as I often feel guilty of things I see and take pictures of.”
Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
“Many people tell me that they have noticed such guys only after seeing my photos. Before, they didn’t have eyes for them. I could not say that I am a "chronographer" above all, because I am selecting, even sniffing situations for a long time. They say about me, that I proceed like a cat hiding, watching. I am waiting for the best moment to push the button of the camera.”
Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
“I am not trying to take pictures of sensational things, but rather of those things which are in excess.”
Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
“I am trying to find the unique in that manifold reality itself. Maybe that is exactly what people like, first of all.”
Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
“I think that the phenomenon I am telling the world about is post-communist and post-Soviet in its essence and that it belongs especially to this world, to the Slavic universe.”
Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
When used for documentation purposes, the photograph exposes a host of fissures within society, portraying the condition of the immediate environment while simultaneously gauging it in a single snapshot.
Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
These particular images first portray the working class of the Cold War era and then the poverty-stricken public, proving that both Perestroika and Glasnost left the people of the Ukraine with much less than they promised.
Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
Mikhailov was never trained as a photographer but used the medium as a forum for free exchange which revealed controversial subject matter--such as nudity or the dire poverty that he and others witnessed throughout the neighborhoods of the Ukraine.

Mikhailov- 1999 Case History
Boris Mikhailov
Case History

1997-1998

A set of 413 photographs

Dimensions variable
A selection illustrated
Case History documents the social oppression, the devastating poverty, the harshness and helplessness of everyday life for the homeless

Other Resources

artfacts.net
Additional information on Boris Mikhailov

the-artists.org
Modern and Contemporary artist and art - Boris Mikhailov

manifesta.es
Boris Mikhailov’s body of work arrives out of a logic of subtle resistance he adopted in the 1960s while working as a photographer responsible for documenting the factory infrastructure in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

tate.org.uk - Boris Mikhailov, Audio Commentary
During the 1970s and 1980s, Boris Mikhailov’s photographs featured satirical criticism of the Soviet regime. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, he has documented the poverty and social collapse that has enveloped his homeland

galeriaff.infocentrum.com
Boris Mikhailov 's photographic works are stretched between two extreme poles - documentaries and staged photographs, although their relation is not based on simple evolution from documentaries tostaging and creation. Sometimes within one work we can find obvious documentary elements, preserved in the photographic image, alongside different, staged elements.

artphoto
Interview, Case History: Boris Mikhailov Revisited
Vladimir Bulat: Do you consider yourself a social artist above all, or are your photographic series only aesthetic products?

Boris Mikhailov: I don’t consider myself in any way. I have found this subject and I like to make the most of it. I think that, in this part of the world at least, it cannot die – it will be there forever, as long as there will be people around here. I say, in this part of the world, because in fact there are homeless people everywhere.

theglobalsit.com - Salt Lake
In Salt Lake, Boris Mikhailov's 1986 photographs provide a breathtaking throwback to life in the USSR. The photographer went to a small Ukrainian town to capture a panoply of stocky men and bikini-clad women — all bathing on a sea shore crowded with smokestacks and brick warehouses.

guardian.co.uk - Sloping towards death
Drunk, mad, filthy and delusional...Boris Mikhailov's images of the Ukraine's homeless leave Adrian Searle awestruck

culturebase.net- Public and private worlds by Judith Staines
Photographer Boris Mikhailov was born in 1938 in Kharkov and is recognised as one of the most important artists to have emerged from the former Soviet Union. He lives and works in Kharkov and Berlin. For over thirty years his photographs have explored the position of the individual, creating radical and often provocative ways of working.

retrospective - Boris Mikhailov: A Retrospectiveby Jill Conner
Living in the current post-Soviet era, the USSR--once prided by western intellectuals as a country that would be the first to successfully abolish class differences--finds a different image of itself in the photographic work of Boris Mikhailov.

artukraine.com - Boris Mikhailov, "The Insulted and the Injured"
BORIS MIKHAILOV went into photography full time largely because the Soviet government did not approve of his photographs. He was an engineer who worked in a factory and took pictures in his spare time.

photonet.org.uk - Boris Mikhailov
'In my work, I identify with the period and the process our country is going through.'
That the photographs of Boris Mikhailov have, for over thirty years, explored the position of the individual within the historical workings of public ideology is unsurprising, given how he started.