Comments/Context: Boris Mikhailov's photographs of homeless people in Kharkov, Ukraine, in the aftermath of the post-Soviet collapse are tough, often disturbing images. Taken in the late 1990s, the images depict worn down men and weary women as they stand in the snow in dirty winter overcoats or huddle in forgotten grubby parklands, often exposing their naked sagging flesh with bored indifference or a twinkle of wry complicity. The images are a sad parade of down trodden vulnerability, punctuated by black eyes, skin welts, dirty toilets and explicit flashing.
This exhibit had me torn, in that I found several of the images to be mesmerizing and spectacular, while plenty of others left me cold or just unmoved by their blunt staginess. This isn't an easy show to like, but one that I think is worth the investment of time to read carefully.
here) and Galerie Barbara Weiss in Berlin (here).
As an aside, after I had spent some time with this show, I stood and watched the stream of casual visitors as they entered the gallery, to see how they reacted when they were confronted by the images on display. A meaningful number had an aghast reaction and decided that they didn't need to see any more, quickly making a detour or reversing course. For the random tourist taking in a sampler of artistic delights at the museum, this exhibit was clearly a splash of cold water, and one which many just didn't have the stomach to engage with.
Rating: ** (two stars) VERY GOOD (rating system described here)
- Reviews: NY Times (here), Wall Street Journal (here)
- Features: Time LightBox (here), LensCulture (here)
Through September 5th
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019