With Ukraine, FOMU brings a comprehensive retrospective of the work of Boris Mikhailov (b. 1938, Ukraine) to Belgium. Mikhailov is one of the most important living artists to have grown up in the former Soviet Union. The exhibition assembles over 300 works focused on Mikhailov’s homeland of Ukraine. His depictions, descriptions and distortions of his country date from the 1960s up to the recent Euromaidan revolution in Kiev.
Mikhailov has been experimenting with the photographic medium for his entire career. His work ranges from documentation to reconstruction, from theatrical fantasy to the intimacy of a diary, from narrative to aesthetic. But his work is always inextricably entwined with his country’s history. The fall of the Soviet Union marks the middle point of his fifty-year career. From its communist past to its independence in 1991 and its recent revolutions, Ukraine has always served as a bellwether for global political and economic balances.
Boris Mikhailov – Ukraine consists of ten series that introduce the chief phases in his career: Superimpositions (1968-75), Black Archive (1968-79), Red Series (1968-75), Luriki (1976-81), Crimean Snobbism (1981), Salt Lake (1986), At Dusk (1993), Case History (1997-98), Tea Coffee Cappuccino (2000-2010) and The Theatre of War (2013). The exhibition gives visitors the opportunity to become acquainted with the life and work of one of the most important figures in recent art history. It also offers an unprecedented chance to explore Mikhailov’s alternative, personal view of “his” Ukraine.
The exhibition is a partnership between FOMU Antwerp and CAMERA Turin. A publication, Diary, will coincide with the exhibition and is published by CAMERA and Walther König. The book is not conceived as an exhibition catalogue: instead, the publication comprises over 500 unpublished photographs either taken by Mikhailov or collected by him as a form of diary. The book thus acts as a final series to complement the exhibition. Diary is for sale at the museum shop for €98. The exhibition is curated by Francesco Zanot (CAMERA) and Joachim Naudts (FOMU).