Boris Mikhailov’s interest in bookmaking perhaps stemmed from pragmatic reasons, that of avoiding the Soviet secret police until the late 1980s. Before then, finding ways of showing his work, even in private spaces, was out of the question. A prolific bookmaker, many of his works have become accessible through the printed page. Boris Mikhailov Bücher Books released in March by Verlag des Buchhandlung Walther Koenig brings two more of Mikhailov’s unpublished book maquettes to light.
The first section presents a recently produced, unbound series of color prints called Structures of madness, or why shepherds living in the mountains often go crazy (2011-12). This project juxtaposes color photographs Mikhailov made of mountain rock formations – which subliminal figures, faces and erotic scenes emerge – with rough pen and crayon sketches of the perceived visions.
The second book maquette called Photomania in Crimea is a bit more adverse to quick conclusions. Created in 1995 this 118 page book of gelatin silver prints gives a sense of an experimental scrap book where snippets of roughly made prints piece together memory but also do battle, with a manic awareness, of traditional photographic clichés of body, water, sensuality and form – hence “photomania.” ‘In this book, the reality of the landscape is of a piece with its real people and with the memory of a former way of life – under the Soviet system. It is suffused with a sense of natural freedom, in which the naked body and the location enter into a state of harmonious union.
These two book maquettes are accompanied by six essays examining different facets of Mikhailov’s oevure by Inka Schube, Oksana Bulgakowa, Boris Groys, Helen Petrovsky, Bernd Steigler and Tobias Wilke.