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On what a naked body can do

Category: art, by sophie engström, gender, ukraine
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It was a couple of days ago I started to think about Boris Mikhailov again – the photographer, not the ice hockey player ; ) My first acquaintance with him and his photos was at a Photo Fair in Gothenburg. I guess it was in the late 1990s. The collection of his photos was not any his more wild and exposing photos, but the old hand coloured. I also saw them in Moscow a couple of years ago and got as equally impressed. It is a fascinating work. But it was a completely different story when I really fell in love with his work. It was when he got the Hasselblad Award in 2000. I had been able to grab a ticket to the award ceremony, and the so called party afterwards at the local City Art Hall.

mikhailov

When I was walking around that City Art Hall I slowly started to grasp what kind of photographer this was! I was completely stunned with his serie with the homeless, alcoholics and drug addicts. Not only was he brave, but also the people he depicted was so. At first I wasn’t very sure if I liked it or not. I thought he exploited the people somehow but I couldn’t put my finger on if I thought it was entirely bad and evil action to do so. But when I came to the last room, I was not very sure what to think at all. It was a serie with self portraits, mostly naked and not in an euphemistically way. His aging body was put in more or less obscure positions. It was something very laughable about it, as it was extremely admirable! He deconstructed his own body, and I both liked and feared. It was like his work spoke two different languages, both brutal and very subtle in the same breath. I was completely entranced by him and his way of thinking, but I still feel have problem describing why, and actually how, I love his work.

Here is an interview with Boris Mikhailov on “Specialisten”.

A couple of years ago a friend from Moscow visited me and we started to talk about Mikhailov. I think we both shared a common admiration for him, but probably in different ways. My friend told me that Mikhailov had been arrested in Kyiv (and released shortly after) due to that he and his assistant had been collecting women’s sanitary pads at public toilets. They needed it for some kind of project that Mikhailov was working on. I still don’t know if it true or not. And parts of me does not want to know either, because I fear it does not exists at all. But if it does, I am convinced that we will most certainly hear about it. It would be pretty controversial … And if it does exist, I will probably dispute with myself if I like it or not, possibly ending up entranced, once more.

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“Gender Check” now!

Category: 1989, art, by sophie engström, eastern europe, gender, ukraine
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From the 13th of November 2009 to 14th February 2010 the exhibition “Gender Check – Femininity and Masculinity in the Art of Eastern Europe” is exhibited at MUMOK, Museum Moderner Kunst, Stiftung Ludwig, in Vienna.

gender check

Gender Check is a project initiated in order to highlight on the 20th anniversary of the the revolution, or fall of iron curtain, in Eastern Europe, with a gender perspective. The curator Bojana Pejić, from Belgrade, has been asked to put together the exhibition by ERTSE Foundation.

The research project Gender Check also had, and still have I guess, the ambition to put gender issues in Eastern Europe in focus, since questions about inequality and gender structures have problems to compete with other issues, such as the financial crisis or climate change for instance. Still, gender has, as many knows, an huge impact on everyday life and on those issues mentioned above. During six month Gender Check commissioned researchers from 24 countries to collect East european official and unofficial art from 1960s to the 1989. The exhibition “Gender Check – Femininity and Masculinity in the Art of eastern Europe” at MUMOK is the result of their joint efforts.

And last, read the interview with Olga Bryukhovetska (PhD, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Visual Culture Research Center) on Hedwig Saxenhuber’s research in Ukraine.

Thus there was a kind of vicious “pre established harmony” between the naturalized ideology of a sexist and patriarchal society which manifested itself in its practices and denial of these discriminative practices on the declared level of the official ideology. A similar structure was in operation in every marginalized social group, preventing it from fully realizing its own marginality and effectively obstructing any resistant practices (the position and consciousness of the Soviet working class being probably the most striking example of the consequences of such perverted ideological twists).

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