Ten Folders of Vyacheslav Tarnovetsky
Exhibition: – 20 Apr 2014
The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography
Bolshaya Polyanka street, 61, bld. 1
+7 495-228 98 78
From 14 March till 20 April 2014 The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography will hold the exhibition Ten Folders of Vyacheslav Tarnovetsky, which is the first ever retrospective of one of the prominent representatives of the so-called “alternative soviet photography”. Moscow has not seen yet such a vast selection of Tarnovetsky's oeuvre. The exhibition will feature around 70 author’s handprints from 1970s to 1990s.
Tarnovetsky's best photographs were taken with his favourite medium-format Iskra camera. Within the strict borders of the square shot he captures his native town Chernivtsi (Ukraine), its people, fanciful and minimalist geometry of the walls, fences, pavements. Tarnovetsky's feeling for light and form was exquisite. His photographs of the town do not belong to documentary or street photography genre. Technically speaking, his way of photographing was akin to reportage. But there was not story telling in his shots. The events prominent to the photographer's camera were sunlight scattered by the chain-link fence, roofs and fences crossings, specific correlation of the tree trunks’ length. These events are strictly photographic in nature. Deprived of the narrative and any kind of social implication, Tarnovetsky’s works are astonishing in their depth. Seemingly simple and commonplace subjects are thoroughly analyzed, they stay topical and time frozen.
As Boris Savelev, photographer and Tarnovetsky’s friend wrote: “There was only pure look and pure fixation of what he felt in his photographs. This is what distinguished him greatly from Moscow photography and even greater from the Ukrainian”. Indeed, both Kiev and Kharkov photography were very much different. The former was regarded as having documentary, reportage approach, the latter - using collage technique, various manipulations, staging and conceptual thinking. Tarnovetsky’s works suggest observing the state (spotted by the act of photographing only), rather than action. This can be termed as “metaphysical photography”. Authors akin to him in their approach are Alexander Sliussarev, Boris Savelev, Sergey Lopatyuk (they organized the group Four, which gave the name to their exhibition in Lithuania in 1978).
Tarnovetsky worked a lot, he took photographs every day. While creating his series, he put each photograph into one of ten folders, named Luminiferous shadow, Glimpses, Groupings, Sots Art, Screening, Windows, City still lifes, Empire, Nobility, Couple. These folders became subject (and formal) reference points that grouped numerous photographic images, compositions, states of light, shadow and form. Sometime one and the same photograph could travel from one to another folder, depending on what features were more significant, i.e. either the Olympic rings on rusty gates or the sharp shadow of the same gates…
Tarnovetsky’s works were often published in foreign books about independent photography in the USSR (Another Russia, 1986, Say Cheese!, Soviet Photography 1968-1988, Changing Reality 1991), but hardly ever in Ukraine and Russia. His aesthetics differed too much from what one could see in Sovetskoe Foto magazine. Only once four photographs of the author were published in this legendary magazine in 1976. Right after this publication Bibliothèque nationale de France (The National Library of France) made a request for Tarnovetsky’s photographs to become part of its collection. As Boris Savelev recalls, “all this seemed totally fantastic at the time”.
The exhibition Ten Folders of Vyacheslav Tarnovetsky will be held in the Small Hall of the The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography in the frame of the long-term project Anthology of Russian Photography of the 20th Century. 1980s-1990s.
Exhibition curator: Katerina Zueva email@example.com
Press office: Olga Korovkina firstname.lastname@example.org