March 16 – April 29, 2012 – FotoFest, Houston, Texas, U.S.A
FotoFest is extremely important event in the photosphere. It is one of the oldest international showcases of photography in the world today. People wait for it with impatience because American photo biennial is a symbol of new and unexplored. And in this spring Houston FotoFest represents its latest discovery – contemporary modern Russia.
Of course some Russian photographers are quite known in the USA, but FotoFest Co-founders and Creative Directors Frederick Baldwin and Wendy Watriss think that there are gaps in American knowledge of the continuum between well-known Russian constructivist artists of the 1920s and contemporary Russian photo artists. That is why there are three exhibitions which are dedicated to late Russian photography from the 1950s to nowadays and the young artists.
This year FotoFest is organized by the Americans and Russians. The American side – fabled Frederick Baldwin and Wendy Watriss, and Russian curators are Evgeny Berezner and Irina Tchmyreva, and their media partner, Natalia Tarasova. Russian organizers present the fund “In support of the Russian Photography” which is maintained by the center of modern culture “Garage” and the fund “Iris”.
All founders had been receiving applications for participation during one month – from the 19th of May till the 20th of June, 2011. About 500 artists from Russia, Ukraine and Belorussia sent their photos and later were chosen the best 147 photographers. All photos were divided into three exhibitions: “The Thaw” (1950s – 1970s), “Perestroika, Liberalization and Experimentation” (mid-1980s–2010), “The Young Generation” (2007-2012).
This year FotoFest’s list of participants is a pride and gladness for FotoDepartament because eight photographers of our gallery has taken part in Houston’s 14th photo biennial. Two of them represented “Perestroika, Liberalization and Experimentation” and other six – “The Young Generation”. We consider, this is an evident proof of our right chosen way of work.
Evgeny Mokhorev and Andrey Polushkin have illustrated the period of Perestoika. Evgeny is a native resident of Leningrad. He was born in late 1960s. He began to make photos when he was young, it was exactly during Perestroika. So his photos depict these times – times of hopes and expectations. Evgeny’s works are well-known abroad: The World of Photographers, Eyemazing, La Lettre and others reportages and articles about him. Mokhorev’s photos change ideas and notions about Russia not only overseas but even among his compatriots.
Andrey Polushkin studied photography in Leningrad too. His photos are difficult for understanding at a glance because his aim is not to show objective reality. Polushkin wants people to think – this is his goal. And numerous publications of his works in Russian magazines (Afisha, Tsifrovik, Na Nevskom, Vodka), in foreign editions (Il Fotografo, Digital) and also awards (first prize Photographer.ru Nonstop photos in 2002, Honorable Mention Award, Digital Creation Awards (DCA) in 2006 , Japan) show that people like his works.
Unlike their predecessors, the young generation of Russian artists don’t have direct experience with Soviet Communism. Growing up after its collapse, they began their careers as part of a globally-connected and individual-oriented society of consumers. In contrast to the sharply ironic and outward-looking artists of the Perestroika periods, young artists look inward, immersed in their own personal experiences and the psychological dilemmas of growing up in modern-day Russia.
This generation is represented by six artists from FotoDepartament: Kir Esadov, Margo Ovcharenko, Nikita Pirogov, Daria Tuminas, Tatiana Plotnikova and Anastasia Tailakova. They are strong personalities and have their own understanding of life.
Kir Esadov shows loneliness in his images. Kir’s works can be called gloomy. But it seems so only at a glance. It is necessary to look better and carefully: they are very deep and full of thoughtfulness.
For today Kir already had three personal exhibitions: “Nocturne” in Zoom cafe (St. Petersburg, 2010), “The private diary of nerd” in the gallery FotoDepartament (St. Petersburg, 2010) and “Angel of my first Death” Gallery Meglinskaya (Vinzavod, 2011). Also he took part in group exhibitions in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Belgrade, Zrenjanin (Serbia), New York, and now in Houston. Esadov’s works were published in journals Citipulse, CK-magazine, Photo & Engineering, etc.
Photos of emerging Russian photographer, Margo Ovcharenko, expose modern youth in the literal and figurative senses. Over the last three years Margo had personal exhibitions in Copenhagen, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and she participated in large group projects and festivals in Russia, Europe and in the United States, including the Re: Generation 2 and the New York Photo Festival (2011). She is among several Russian artists who received a grant in support of the young photography from Fabric, company Benetton. Also Margo had been working on probation for a year in Italy.
Nikita Pirogov is only 22 but he is already successful. His photos “The other shore” are exhibited in Houston now but firstly Nikita presented this set of shots during summer exhibition “Young Photography 2010 ½” – project by FotoDepartament, which helps to find new photo talents. Autumn, that year, he won portfolio review – XX Month of Photography, Bratislava, Slovakia. Later Nikita won portfolio review in Vena, and had several personal exhibitions abroad: in Denmark, Slovakia, Austria, and the most recently – in Switzerland.
Daria Tuminas became famous in photo sphere very quickly. You can find her works in Stay Tunde, GUP, We find wildness, Burn Magazine. As she said, the greatest achievement for today is her internship in Foam magazine and Master’s degree at Leiden University (The Netherlands). Also she got Licie Foundation Scholarship, won Viewbook PhotoStory Competition and took part in Lodz Fotofestiwal – all these things happened within one year –2010. In her first personal project « Ivan and the Moon» she describes a story of two brothers who live in the country. They have drawn her attention because they aren’t similar to city children; they have other activities and hobbies. And as we can see, they depict Russia very good, because roots of Russian history are in the countryside and in its local residents.
Daria Tuminas’s photoraphs are bright and look rather positive. And Tatiana Plotnikova shows another point of view. She demonstrates country life horrors, which have become usual for our country. Tatiana’s works are known in Russia and abroad, she is a regular author in magazine “Russian reporter” (Russia), her works were published in “Five corners” (St-Petersburg), Foto&Video, Autoportret (Poland) and etc. Tatiana took part in more than 20 group exhibitions in Russia, France, China, Burma and Cambodia. Houston FotoFest shows Tatiana’s photos from different sets, but they are all united with Russian spirit, which Plotnikova understands like nobody else.
And one more “young” photographer who participates in photo biennial – Anastasia Tailakova. Her photo works were published in Feaverish Photography Blog, Lens Culture, Leica (Chinese photo magazine), Here Blog and in other blogs and magazines. As Daria Tuminas, she took part in project «In Vain» (2010) which was showed in the exhibition program of Fotofestiwal in Lodz (Poland). In her career can be marked out such exhibitions as “Common place” (part of the Seventh International Month of Photography in Moscow “Biennial 2008”), “Action!” Design Center ARTPLAY on Yauza, and a participation in “Young Photography 2010 1/2. Something strange”. Tailakova’s works can be named “everyday photos”. She depicts moments of usual life and makes people pay attention to ordinary things which people often don’t notice.
All photos are very different and it is obviously that they will give the Americans new knowledge and understanding of Russia. We hope that Western audience will get a holistic impression of our country, and with the help of Russian artists Americans will understand us, our history, our culture and Russia itself.