The controversial photographic work of Boris Mikhailov documents the terrible daily lives and the ruthless social conditions in which many homeless people (also known as Bomzhes), end up in post-communist Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union. Destroyed lives that continue their existence on the margins of the new Russian economic regime without any social assistance.
Mikhailov’s work is surreal, ironic, at times even amusing, a strategy that the author uses to effectively report the absurdity of these grotesque existences.
Oscillating between empathy and disgust in front of the images and staging of Boris Mikhailov the spectator remains disoriented, involved in an exercise of guilty vouyerism for which the vision of so much misery and madness, end up constituting a real meeting with each other. An indigestible but still precious otherness in a world that tends to describe itself more and more through disciplined and disciplinary narrative formulas.
This series presents a simulated marriage between two homeless people often naked and in sexual poses, set in their daily environment, the images tell their story and tell the raw reality through a narrative invention.
Boris Mikhailov (b. 1938 in Kharkiv, Ukraine) is one of the most important chroniclers of everyday life in a (post-) Soviet society. He studied electrical engineering at a technical university and began work as an engineer. He taught himself photography in the 1960s. Mikhailov’s early series from the 1960s and 1970s most frequently depicted personal images from everyday life, poverty, sexuality, despair, resignation and the decline of a forgotten Eastern- Europe – is consistency unvarnished and raw. Mikhailov has always focused on society’s outsiders. His works have been shown around the world in countries sola and group exhibitions, at institutions including Sprengel Museum, MoMA, Tate Modern, Kunsthalle Wien, and the Ukrainian Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia. Boris Mikhailov lives and works in Kharkiv and Berlin.