Sunday, July 22, 2007

An ecstatic weariness...

“BOMJI. It is a term made of capital letters, recently coined. It literally refers to those people without a stable residence, practically living in the streets, wherever they can stretch their bones.”

- B. Mikhailov

Boris Mikhailov's "Look at Me I Look at Water, or a Perversion of Repose" is a one-of-a-kind photography book that will either find you slamming it shut in a state of profound distaste, or, preferably, drawing you in to an electrified state of horror and fascination. Face it, the average Westerner just doesn't have any points of reference when confronted with the barking mad, flea-bitten, deathly erotic, beautiful festering decay of the average Ukrainian soul on the street. But that shouldn't make us recoil. It should inspire us to re-tally our conceptions of possible human experiences. Mikhailov seems a 70-year-old teenager with a playful prankster's eye, a cruel charismatic egotism, and an unflinching taste for the peculiar ultra-vivid aliveness that human depravity and apathy have on film. For those of you unfamiliar with Mikhailov, I recommend spending some time with his work. To call him the Ukrainian Terry Richardson is an insult (unlike the way that Walter Matthau used to call himself the "Ukrainian Cary Grant"), and tells nothing of the harsh, unsettled realities so many people in the Ukraine face, but it will give some a superficial and safe point of entry to an alarmingly raw and foreign Slavic universe.

(Image from "Case Study" a related project to the "Look at Me.." book, by Boris Mikhailov, 1999)


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