Boris Mikhailov (Ukrainian, b.1938) is a renowned photographer whose work deals extensively with human conditions in the former Soviet Union. Mikailov was originally an engineer, but he took up photography professionally after losing his job when the KGB found nude portraits of his wife that he had taken. Mikhailov began to release his work in social documentary series of photographs, which fall under the category of Concept Art. His first significant series was the Private Series, which documented private domestic scenes and began to develop his reputation for intimate and sometimes playful representations of the individual. In the 1970s and 1980s, Mikhailov's work began to focus on the realities of life under Soviet rule, beginning with the Red Series, which first gained Mikhailov notoriety as a photographer of Soviet realities. He continued with Unfinished Dissertation, a mixed media project combining his documentary-style photographs of life in the town of Kharkov with fragments of his uncle''s university lecture notes.

Mikhailov's most notable work is often considered to be 1999's Case History, a revealing series of photographs dealing with the homeless and lack of social support in post-Soviet Russia. Case History was one of the first series to depict conditions of individuals in Eastern Europe after communism. The series was later published in a book collection and won several awards, including the Krazna-Krausz Photography Book Award. He has since published a number of other collections of his photographs, working alongside fellow photographers, such as Collier Schorr. His style continues to deal primarily with images of people on the outside of society, especially those in post-Soviet countries. These themes are exemplified in Mikhailov's recent works, such as the 2011 series The Wedding, which depicts the staged wedding of two homeless Russians in often absurd but tragic photographs.

Mikhailov currently lives and works in Berlin, and exhibits his work at a variety of museums worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Centre de la Photographie in Geneva, and Saatchi Gallery in London.

Timeline

1938
Born in Kharkov (former USSR)
1994
Light Work grant, Artist-in-Residence program, Syracuse University, NY, USA
1996
Coutts Contemporary Art Foundation Award, Zürich, Switzerland
1996
Awarded Landeskulturzentrum grant, Salzau, Germany
1998–1999
Albert Renger-Patzsch Award, a support for European Photographic book projects by the Dietrich Oppenberg Foundation, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany
1998–1999
Stipendium Landeshauptstadt München, Kulturreferat, Germany
1998–1999
DAAD grant (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst), Berlin, Germany
2001
Kraszna-Krausz Book Award for the best books on photography, London, England
2001
Citybank Private Bank Photography Prize, London, England
2001
Visiting lecturer, Department of Visual and Enviromental Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
2001
Le prix du Livre de Photographie des Recontres Internationales de la Photographie d’Arles 2000, Arles, France
2001
Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography, Gothenburg, Sweden
2002–2003
Guest lecturer, The Academy of Visual Art, Leipzig, Germany
2003
General Satellite corporation art prize for a contribution to the development of the contemporary Russian art, Moscow
2012
Spectrum Preis der Stiftung Niedersachsen, Hannover, Germany
Lives and works in Berlin and Kharkov

Exhibitions

2012–2013
Shanghai Biennale
2012–2013
Everything was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s, Barbican London, UK
2012
Arsenale 2012 The Frist Kyiv International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Mystetskyi Arsenal, Kiev, Ukraine (solo)
2012
Time is out of joint. Fotografien 1966 – 2011, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin (solo)
2010
Realismus – das Abenteuer der Wirklichkeit. Courbet – Hopper – Gursky, Kunsthalle Emden, Emden, Germany
2009–2010
1989. Ende der Geschichte oder Beginn der Zukunft?, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria (solo)
2009–2010
1989. Ende der Geschichte oder Beginn der Zukunft?, Villa Schöningen, Potsdam, Germany
2009
Boris Mikhailov. Dusk, DEWEER gallery, Otegem, Belgium (solo)
2008
The Wedding, Sprovieri Progetti, London, UK
2008
Glück - Welches Glück, Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden, Dresden, Germany
2007
Biennale di Venezia, Ukrainian Pavilion
2007
Yesterday, Kunst Meran im Haus der Sparkasse, Meran, Italy (solo)
2007
Look at me I look at Water, Sprengelmuseum Hannover, Germany (solo)
2007
Hot + Bothered: Looking at the Landscape/Thinking about the World, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, USA
2007
What does the jellyfish want?, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany
2007
Der Kontrakt des Fotografen, Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany
2007
Banzai!, Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin, Germany (solo)
2007
Barbara Gross Galerie, Munich, Germany (solo)
2006
Yesterday’s Sandwich, Shugoarts, Tokyo, Japan (solo)
2006
Der Kontrakt des Fotografen, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany
2006
Twilight-Photography in the Magic Hour, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
2006
Die Schönheit der Chance, Institut für moderne Kunst, Nuremberg, Germany
2006
In the Face of History, European Photographers in the 20th Century, Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK
2006
Berlin-Tokyo/Tokyo-Berlin. Die Kunst zweier Städte, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany
2006
Toucher l’indicible, Centre régional d’art contemporain, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
2006
Tokyo-Berlin/Berlin-Tokyo, Mori Art Museum, Roppongi Hills, Tokyo, Japan
2005
Circa Berlin, Nikolaj Contemporary Art Center, Copenhagen, Denmark
2005
Motor Blues, Fotografien aus der Schenkung AutroWerke von BMW Financial Services, Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig, Germany
2005
Information/Transformation, Extra City Center for Contemporary Art, Antwerp, Belgium
2005
Zeit Raum Bild – 10 Jahre Dokumentarfotografie, Kulturforum, Berlin, Germany (solo)
2005
Look at me I look at Water, If I were a German, I am not I, Suzanne Tarasiève, Paris, France (solo)
2005
Butterbrot, Galerie Ilka Bree, Bordeaux, France (solo)
2005
Welt – Bilder, Helmhaus Zürich, Zurich, switzerland
2005
Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA (solo)
2005
Look at me I look at Water, Centre de la Photographie, Geneva, Switzerland (solo)
2005
Rundlederwelten, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, Germany
2004
Privatisierungen. Zeitgenössische Kunst aus Osteuropa, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany
2004
In the Street, Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin, Germany (solo)
2004
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA, USA (solo)
2004
Boris Mikhailov, fotografies 60's-2003, Institut de Cultura de Barcelona, Spain (cat.) (solo)
2004
Testimony of the negative, Centrum Sztuki Wspolczesnej Zamek, Poland (solo)
2004
Verbal photography: Ilya Kabakov and Boris Mikhailov, Museum Serralves, Porto, Portugal (cat.)
2004
Verworpenen en Zondaskinderen, De Hallen Harlem
2004
Social Creatures. How Body becomes Art / Soziale Kreaturen. Wie Körper Kunst wird, Sprengel Museum Hannover, Germany
2004
Berlin-Moskau / Moskau-Berlin 1950-2000, Staatliche Tretjakow-Galerie, Moscow, Russia
2004
The Beauty of Darkness, Reflex Modern Art Gallery, Amsterdam, Netherlands
2004
Photo Exhibition, Barbara Gross Galerie, Munich, Germany
2004
Fotografia Verbal: Ilya Kabakov, Boris Mikhailov, Museuserralves, Museu de Arte Contamporanea, Porto, Portugal
2004
Channel Zero, Netherlands Media Arts Institute/Montevideo TBA, Amsterdam, Netherlands
2004
Dorf in die Metropole - Rohkunstbau in Berlin, Studio 1, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany
2004
Architektur der Obdachlosigkeit. Biss zu Gast in der Berlinischen Galerie, Berlinische Galerie
2004
Palau de la Virreina, Barcelona, Spain (solo)
2004
TV-Mania, Kunstverein Arnsberg, Germany (solo)
2004
Galeria Helga de Alvear, Madrid, Spain (solo)
2003
Berlin-Moscow-Berlin, Museum Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany
2003
Boris Mikhailov: Private Freuden, lastende Langeweile, öffentlicher Zerfall - ne Retrospektive, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland (solo)
2003
Cambrige Album, Duke University, USA (solo)
2003
Cruel + Tender, The Real in the Twentieth-Century Photograph, Tate Modern, London, UK
2003
Traumfabrik Kommunismus, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany
2003
Architektur der Obdachlosigkeit, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany
2002
The Insulted and the Injured, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, USA (solo)
2001
Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany (solo)
2001
Autowerke, BMW Collaction, Franz Hals Museum, Haarlem, The Netherlands
2001
From the 60s until now..., Museum of Modern Art, New York
2000
How you look at it. Fotografien des 20. Jahrhunderts, Sprengel Museum, Hannover; Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
2000
Boris Mikhailov. 2000 Hasselblad Award Winner, Hasselblad Center, Gothenburg, Sweden (solo)
2000
Boris Mikhailov, The Photographers Gallery, London, UK (solo)
2000
Dvir Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel (solo)
2000
Barbara Gross Gallery, Munich, Germany (solo)
2000
12th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, Australia (cat.)
1999
Global Conceptualism. Points of Origin, 1950-1980s, Queens Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA (cat.), travelling to Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA
1999
Boris Mikhailov, Fondacione Querini Stampalia, Venice, Italy (solo)
1999
Boris Mikhailov, Centre National de la Photographie, Paris (solo)
1998
Boris Mikhailov, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (solo)
1998
Boris Mikhailov. Les Misérables (About the world), Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany; (cat.)
1997
Photomania, DAAD Gallery, Berlin, Germany (solo)
1996
Boris Mikhailov A Retrospective, SCCA, Soros Center of Contemporary Art, Kiev, Ukraine
1996
Boris Mikhailov, Kunsthalle Zürich (solo)
1995
Boris Mikhailov, Portikus, Frankfurt am Main (solo)
1995
After the Fall, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA, USA (solo)
1995
Currents ’95 - Familiar Places, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA, USA
1994
Perspectief Photografic Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (solo)
1993
New Photography 9, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA
1992
Boris Mikhailov: Works form 1970-1991, Forum Stadtpark, Graz, Austria (solo)
1991
Carnegie International, The Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
1990
Museum of Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel (solo)
1990
The Missing Picture, Alternative Contemporary Photography from the Soviet Union, List Visual Arts Center, MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA

Literature

2007
Christine Meffert, Boris Mikhailov, Die Zeit-Zeitmagazin Leben, Nr. 41, Oktober 4, 2007
2007
Boris Mikhailov: A simple question a simple answer, Gomma Magazine, Vol. 3, p.99, 117-119
2007
Boris Mikhailov: Yesterday’s Sandwich and Other Life Stories, Bijutsu Shuppan-Sha, Vol. 3, Nr. 892, 3/2007, p.131-140
2007
Boris Mikhailov – Suzi et cetera, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne
2006
Brian Dillon, All too human, Humanism-What on earth is it?, Art Review, Nr. 4, October, p. 102
2006
Joanna Pitman, When the night comes falling, The Times, October 11
2006
When Sky was Sea-1998-2005, exhibition catalogue, Galerie der Stadt Schwaz, Schlebrügge.Editor, Vienna
2006
Berlin-Tokyo / Tokyo-Berlin: Die Kunst zweier Städte, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern-Ruit, exhibition catalogue
2005
Ruedi Schorno, Das Gesicht der Armut-Boris Mikhailov „Case History“, Kunst 21, Das Magazin für zeitgenössische Kunst, No. 9, October
2005
Boris Mikhailov, Il Teatro dell‘Arte, Villa Manin Centro D‘Arte Contemporanea, p. 178-179
2004
Larissa Harris: Boris Mikhailov. Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Artforum International, December, p. 199-200
2004
Katrin Wittneven: Straßenkunst. Der Fotograf Boris Mikhailov zeigt Berlin als Niemandsland, Der Tages-spiegel, May 9, p. 29
2004
Boris Mikhailov. Look at Me I Look at Water. Or Perversion of Repose, Göttingen 2004
2003
Boris Mikhailov. A Retrospective, exhibition catalogue, Fotomuseum Winterthur/Scalo
2003
Berlin-Moskau / Moskau-Berlin 1950-2000, exhibition catalogue, Martin-Gropius Bau, Berlin,Nicolai Verlag
2002
Boris Mikhailov. Salt Lake, Pace/Mac Gill Gallery, Göttingen, published by Steidl
2002
Peter Herbstreuth: Pfeffer im Minztee. Unser Mann im Sperrgebiet: Boris Mikhailov bei Barbara Weiss, Der Tagesspiegel, March 16 , p. 25
2002
Brigitte Werneburg: TV Today, die Tageszeitung, No. 29, January 26/27, p. 36
2000
Boris Mikhailov. The Hasselblad Award 2000, ed. by Gunilla Knape, essay by Boris Groys, Gothenburg
2000
How you look at it. Photographs of the 20th Century, London
1999
Boris Mikhailov - Case History, Zurich, Berlin, New York