Close and Far//Russian Photography Now//Calvert 22

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Photo by Alexander Gronsky, Suburbs of Moscow, 2010

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Photo by Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky, Haying at the (Leushinsky) Monastery, Views Along the Mariinsky Canal and river system, 1909

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Photo by Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky, Studies on Lindozero (Laika, dog) Views along the Murmansk railway, 1915

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Photo by me

Calvert 22 is a gallery which showcases the work of Russian and Eastern European artists. This exhibition, from a new generation of photographers and video artists, explores identity and place in early 21st century Russia. It features work by Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky, whose colour images of pre-revolutionary Russia are exhibited for the first time in the UK. The exhibition also includes the work of Alexander Gronsky, Dimitri Venkov, Taus Makhacheva, Olya Ivanova and Max Sher.

"When Nicholas II, the last tsar, personally commissioned Prokudin-Gorsky, an early pioneer of colour photography, to document his vast empire he presided over the largest territory in the world. Today, Russia is still a land of dramatic extremes and diversity. Where Prokudin-Gorsky witnessed first-hand the effects of galloping colonisation and the early stirrings of industrialisation, today’s artists work in the aftermath of the empire’s collapse, grappling both with its past and future." Calvert 22 

I thought that there were some very stunning images in this exhibition and for someone that has never been to Russia before it was interesting to see the Russian locals against the background of everyday landscapes from the Russian artists’ point of view. I particularly enjoyed the landscape work of Alexander Gronsky, from the series of work called Pastoral. The photos are of the “edge-lands’, neither rural nor urban, an area which often gets overlooked by photographers. He captures the untidiness of the Moscow suburbs, from the unsightly buildings, to the unkept grass and rubbish, and contrasts it with how the locals use the space for leisure, with activities such as sunbathing and barbecuing. His images show ”how people use – and abuse – the precious green spaces available to them”.The Guardian 

I found this exhibition to be an eye opening view of a side of Russia that is very rarely seen or photographed. It focuses on the everyday, in-between area of the edge-lands and ordinary people’s activities there. In addition, the colour images of Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky, peel back the historical layers of the landscape and bring the images to life again. 

Camden Arts Centre and Calvert 22 gallery.

We had a trip to the Camden Arts Centre and the Calvert 22 gallery in London last Friday. As much I enjoyed visiting these, I must admit I rather preferred looking at the art on the street (aka street art). Especially the giant possum on the side of a building. Possibly the best piece of art I saw that day hehe! Thankfully I got told who it was by (someone known as ROA), otherwise it would have bugged the hell out of me. It was also the first time travelling by the overground! It’s like the underground, but over-ground. I didn’t know it existed until planning the journey. Silly me. And there were dogs! So many cute dogs. Then to end an already good day, the parents came to visit and feed me haha!

Watch on retrogardelondon.tumblr.com

Alexei Monroe’s gallery tour of the Irwin/NSK Folk Art show. Filmed and edited by Simon Bell.

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