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Flight of fools

Russian photography today
12 - 28 February 2004

Selected works by:
Nikolay Bakharev
Sergey Bratkov
Vita Buivid
Olga Chernysheva
Oleg Kulik

Image: Nickolay Bakharev. Beach Series. 1991 - 1993

Programme of events (booking essential):
18 February 19.00
Sergey Bratkov, one of the most taboo-breaking Ukrainian photographers and co-founder of ' Vremia ' Group (along with Boris Mikhailov), and a participant of the 50th Venice Biennale, will give an illustrated talk, followed by a Q&A session with Charlotte Cotton, Photography Curator, V&A.

Tickets: £4.00 / £3.00 concessions.

Photography in Russia and the Ukraine had to be restructured after the end of the socialist system. It was able to find its place in the field of art following Western standards, with new tendencies regarding form and content which quickly surpassed painting in terms of modernity. The nineties were marked by this radical change: on the one hand, one was looking back to the constructivism of Rodchenko and on the other hand, forms of staged photography emerged, wich reached as far as tableaux vivant, staged landscape photography, documentary photography and action photography.

In Moscow many important artists started the new era of photography, the main protagonists were the Group AES, Buivid, Chernysheva, Efimov, Group Fenso, Infante father and son, Liberman, Kulik, Mukhin and so on.

There was also special development in Kharkiv in the Ukraine, where in the late sixties, photographers had established themselves in underground art displaying a radical realism. Members of the Vremia group (Bratkov, Mikhailov, Solonsky) not only transformed "permitted" topics - like architecture and labour - but also handled the taboo theme of male nakedness. In Kharkiv, a big Russian Ukrainian industrial town, the photogenic misery is to be found everywhere in the streets: homeless children, casuals, prostitutes, frozen corpses, drunkards, rightwing radical hooligans, wretched old women.
For many years Bratkov worked with Boris Mikhailov, who was older and had already developed his style of radical realism during his underground years in the Vremia group, and he learned to name things without taboo and palliation.

This exhibition will include selected works by some of the most profound photographers artists working in Russia today:

Nikolay Bakharev ' s series 'Beach Photography' : black and white portraits of people taken on the beach in Novokuznetsk, the Siberian city where he lives. Bakharev's purpose is to offer his services as a photographer to his (paying) clients, rather than taking pictures for his own collection. The images are consequentaly transformed by this unique relationships.

Sergey Bratkov's 'Italian School' : photographs of young criminals staging a Biblical story play in one of the orphanages in Kharkiv.

'Junk - fashion ' shoot by Vita Buivid (in collaboration with Petlura) , an attempt to reclaim surviving scraps of art and, indeed, life, which were suppressed or annihilated during the Soviet regime, and to protect elements of Russian national identity that are fast disappearing under capitalism.

In the 'Anabiosis' series (portraits of fisherman and plants) exhibited here Olga Chernysheva captures the diffuse area of life between the struggle for survival and forms of recreation and pleasure, so often found in an extreme climate such as Russia's.

Oleg Kulik ' s performance-based photographs 'Family of the future' were taken in the early nineties. He proposes a new vision of the 'Family of the Future' in which the dog, and other animals, are partners to a man. Within the framework of his programme Kulik is attempting a radical rethink of the languages of human culture"

Exhibition open Mon - Fri, 11- 6, Sat 11- 5. Exhibition is free.
White Space Gallery St Peter's, Vere Street (off Oxford Street), London W1G ODQ. Tube: Bond Street
Tel. 07949 100 956 or 0208 740 4675


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