Boris Mikhailov. Parliament series, 2017
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Ukrainian National Pavilion
57th Venice Biennale, 2017 ︎
feat.SVITER + Ivan Svitlychnyi, zhúzhalka, Anton Belinskiy, Juergen Teller
co-curated with Peter Doroshenko
Parliament series focuses on photography’s interaction with media interfaces and the interplay between analogue and digital representation.
Sifting through streams of information on television, Mikhailov created hybrid portraits of contemporary authorities by way of manipulating the transmission signals. The visual breakdown of figures in Parliament resembles the styles of Cubism and Suprematism where holistic perception of reality is disrupted by extreme forces of abstraction. The photographs metaphorically portray the situation of political crisis and society’s distrust in authorities. Mikhailov began the series in 2014 while watching parliamentary debates about the war in Eastern Ukraine on European television. By 2017, when the work was presented at the Venice Biennale, the images proved to be symptomatic of the unreliable media landscape and the society of post-truth characterized by the splintering of media communities and informational echo-chambers.
Born in 1938 in Kharkiv, Mikhailov is a major figure in Ukrainian art. His images provide a poignant and haunting perspective on the role of the individual in Soviet and post-Soviet conditions. He started experimenting with photography in the 1960s while working as an engineer. Since then, Mikhailov has produced more than 30 photographic series and published over 20 photobooks. He received 2000 Hasselblad Foundation International Award, 2021 Shevchenko National Prize, 2012 Spectrum International Prize for photography, Citibank Photography Prize (later renamed Deutsche Börse Photography Prize), and 1999 Krazna-Krausz Photography Book Award. Past solo exhibitions include MoMA, ICA Boston, Tate Modern, Fotomuseum Antwerpen, Berlinische Galerie, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Kunsthalle Wien, and Centro Italiano per la Fotografía, among others.
Installation views of Ukrainian Pavilion at 57th Venice Biennale, 2017. Studio Cannaregio. Photos by zhúzhalka.