Russian Photography Now

Given the fascinating history of Russia, it’s surprising to read that the UK has never staged an exhibition devoted to Russian photography.

Olya Ivanova, Nina Alekseevna Lobanova, Kich-gorodok series, 2010

Source: Courtesy of the author

Olya Ivanova, Nina Alekseevna Lobanova, Kich-gorodok series, 2010

But according to London’s Calvert 22 Gallery, that has been the case – which it is set to change on 18 June, when the gallery’s Russian Photography Now exhibition opens for its two-month tenure.

The show will present recent works alongside an image from 1909, captured by Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky.

Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii. Peasant girls. [Russian Empire],1909

Source: Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii. Peasant girls. [Russian Empire],1909

Prokudin-Gorsky was commissioned by Nicholas II, the last Tsar, to document his empire in the years before the Russian Revolution began in 1914.

Olya Ivanova, Red Corner, Kich-gorodok series, 2010

Source: Courtesy of the author

Olya Ivanova, Red Corner, Kich-gorodok series, 2010

The photographer ended up travelling with the family for five years – no mean feat considering that to take photographs in the early 20th century, complex and heavy kit including delicate glass plates, chemistry sets and a darkroom were required – all of which ended up travelling by horse-drawn carriage.

Alexander Gronsky, Dzerzhinskiy, 2009, Pastoral series 2008-2012

Source: Courtesy of the author

Alexander Gronsky, Dzerzhinskiy, 2009, Pastoral series 2008-2012

According to Calvert 22 Gallery, ‘The Tsar wanted these photographs to fix forever the “old” Russia ­ the Russia of Tolstoy and Chekov ­ at a time that the forces of change were gathering pace.’

The recent works by young photographers give a view of early 21st century Russia through their eyes, with a range of images on show from cities, mountains, coasts and suburbia.

Alexander Gronsky, Strogino, 2009, Pastoral series 2008-2012

Source: Courtesy of the author

Alexander Gronsky, Strogino, 2009, Pastoral series 2008-2012

Calvery 22 Gallery says, ‘Russia is vivid and vast and its contemporary photographers, like their father-figure Prokudin-Gorskii, continue to travel its expanses, as a route to understanding their world and the multifarious peoples who inhabit it.’

Russian Photography Now
runs from 18 June ­ 17 August at Calvert 22 Gallery, 22 Calvert Avenue, London, E2 7JP

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