Boris Michailov - Les miserables (About the World / Uber die Welt)
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- First edition
- Softcover, text German/English
- Published by Sprengel Museum Hannover, 1998
Les Miserables focuses on what Mikhailov believes is the result of the breakup of the former Soviet Union. Though Mikhailov considers the conditions of his particular place of residence for over 50 years crucial to his work, he is not providing a recollection of the specific history of Kharkov, Ukraine. Rather, he brings out the 'condition humaine' in this city characterized by industry and factories, by newly installed Coca Cola billboards as well as socialist architecture.
Kharkov provides the backdrop for Mikhailov's moving portraits describing the decay of both social structures and individual lives. We witness street kids taking drugs, adults in search of food, trying to re-install their social self by cleaning their bodies in the artist's own apartment. Despite devastating poverty, the women and men in Mikhailov's images look back at us with great dignity. Their eyes express an unbroken will to survive in a social system that has broken down completely. Mikhailov depicts the harshness of everyday life in a society not as far away from ours as we might think.