Soviet Era Photo Exhibition Bombs

Late 20th Century Photographs from Russia and Belarus @ the BMA

Late 20th Century Photographs from Russia and Belarus is an exhibition of images that appear to be presented in no particular order or theme. The exhibition ranges from work created in the 1960s to the late 1990s, with only 20 photographs of the entire collection of 47 shown. It is obvious that the exhibition is culled from a donation made to the museum by a former curator. It is understandable that the museum would present art that a curator has donated, but the BMA should have made a more cohesive display.

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“Lenin, Kirillov” by Igor Moukhin

All 20 images represent the history of late 20th century Russia and Belarus. While the first two installations depict themes of the fall of the Soviet Union, which, given the title, is what a viewer would think they would be seeing, almost all of the other photos appear to be more random.

The first two installations contain photographs by Igor Moukhin of the same statue but from different vantage points and are conceptually interesting. The first image, “Lenin, Kirillov,” dated 1990, shows the decomposing back of the statue of Lenin. In the second installation, “Transformation of the Image Nos. 1-4,” are four photographs of the statue, this time, viewed from the front. Each one is more scratched up than the one before it, representing the loss of power of the former USSR.

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“Transformation of the Images Nos. 1-4” by Igor Moukhin

The strongest image in the entire collection is a portrait by Galina Moskaleva. It is set towards the end of the exhibit. It’s untitled, but comes from a series called “Children Who Have Had Thyroid Operations.” The image shows a headshot of a little girl. At first glance her neck looks completely unharmed, but on closer inspection, a faded scar can be seen on the base of her neck. The image is aesthetically pleasing and captivating. However, I wish there had been more of an explanation as to the reason behind the series on the image’s label.

The exhibition had some true gems hidden underneath the muddle of images that were generously donated to the BMA. If only the exhibition as a whole could have lived up to its promise.

Late 20th Century Photographs from Russia and Belarus at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Running until March 20th, 2016. More information can be found on their website .

Author Nehal Aggarwal is a voracious coffee drinker, always on the lookout for the next big adventure or art show.

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