Saatchi Gallery, April 2013



Three photographers get to contribute to the 'Gaiety is the Most Outstanding Feature of the Soviet Union' exhibition currently showing at The Saatchi Gallery.

Anyone who saw Peter Weir's film 'The Way Back' would be familiar with the body art tradition that prevailed in the Soviet Union gulags and prisons among the criminal classes - but to come face to face with graphic black and white prints depicting the real thing - that are almost cinematic in size themselves - is an almost brutalising experience. These unflinching portraits made in the early 90's by Sergei Vasiliev, are the first in a grim sequence of rooms where life after the collapse of communism is exposed to have been a social catastrophe, largely ignored by the West.

'Neighbours' - no obvious connection to the TV series - consists of a set of poses where Vikenti Nilin life is seen to be so troubled that the city tower blocks that provide shelter also offer the real possibility of escape, in the form of sudden death from falling.

Boris Mikhailov , Case History 97-98, shows him his capability to be the most intrusive of photographers as a witness at the banal agonies that occur at the end of the world. His approach of observation and overt interaction simultaneously engages and exploits the weak and the helpless - and in that difficult process a valid record is made which reveals so much.

 

 

Until 9th June 2013