Boris Mikhailov. Maquette
Ukrainian photographer Boris Mikhailov has become famous for using the social documentary style to reveal the plight of marginalized communities, particularly as they have been dispersed in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union: in his 1998 Case History series, for example, Mikhailov examined the lives of the homeless population in Kharkov, in the Ukraine. Mikhailov broaches entirely new territory with this substantial volume, a dynamic portrayal of a group of actors and non-actors in the German city of Braunschweig (Brunswick), all of whom were auditioning for roles in the Aeschylus play, The Persians. The play was produced as an allegory of war and a young democracy, with members of the public taking the role of the chorus, creating a contemporary resonance that Mikhailov was immediately drawn to. The photographer became a part of the production process, and his record of the occasion is divided across three chapters: "Shooting," "Bus Stop" and "Home Theater." He writes of his process: "My former slapdash Soviet methodologies united with German reality have helped me, I believe, to manifest something new. Perhaps something very small and simple but in some way very pure." Beyond this record of a social collaboration and a singular community, Mikhailov has made a moving portrait that addresses the future of Germany.