The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography has opened the exhibition Moscow Stories. XX century. Part II”- the final part of a large project dedicated to the life of the capital over the past 100 years. The founder and curator of the gallery, Natalia Grigorieva, told MarieClaire.ru about how the works were selected and how Soviet photography conveys the atmosphere and shades of the city.
How was the second part of the Moscow Stories exhibition planned?
- The success of the first part of the project, shown two years ago, did not give us rest. We took a book of reviews - almost every viewer said: "I want to return to that Moscow, give me that city, I want to live there!" Of course, there was a lot of controversy in the city of the 1950s, but when smiling people look at you from a photograph, you remember those times, remember yourself or your parents. Here I studied, and in that bakery there was delicious bread … Each of us has our own Moscow stories. Soviet photographers showed happiness and positivity.
How were the works selected? What were the criteria?
- The Lumiere Brothers Center is not a historical museum, we have no task to show Moscow chronicles. We look at the uniqueness of each frame in the context of the art of photography. There are no people in Soviet photos for tourist postcards and calendars from Vneshtorgizdat, this is soulless Moscow. We were looking for a living city with the emotions of people who lived in the 60s and 90s. If the viewer sees in the frame a person walking by, he feels the city where his grandparents lived and misses it.
New settlers, 1960s.
Vozdvyzhensky Dmitry, Sviridova Nina
How has photography changed since then?
- In the early 60s, amateur photography was just emerging, when our grandparents began to develop film in their bathrooms. The country took the camera - a controversial and unofficial "art part" appeared. In the 60s, an independent club photo movement appeared in Moscow. For example, "Novator" as one of the leaders, which included the legendary Soviet self-taught photographers - Mikhail Dashevsky, Anatoly Boldin, Igor Palmin.
The photo exhibition "Moscow stories" of the first half of the 20th century was luminous and radiant. When we started looking through the works for the second part, we saw that the photograph became more truthful, and sometimes more pessimistic. Plus, until the 50s, there were certain legislative measures in the field of unofficial photography: you could not come and photograph the Crimean bridge - it was prohibited.
Is it difficult to select jobs?
- We are closely friends with photographers and their heirs. When you work with a photo archive, it can be unbearably difficult to “refuse” a particular photo. It is a sense of duty and responsibility, because photographers trust you with the best part of life. The curators of the Lumière Brothers Center defend each photo for the exhibition, and I perfectly understand that in addition to their art criticism argument, there is also an emotional component of the relationship with the author.
How do you technically select photos? After all, negatives cannot be written to disk or transferred to a USB flash drive …
- To make a photo exhibition for 300 works, you need to scan tens of thousands of negatives, view them, print a couple of thousand controls, tear one and a half thousand and leave only 500, so that after a month of discussion you can filter out a couple of hundred more. It is expensive and time consuming. But I really want to discover new names for Soviet photography.
“Give me the Moscow of the 1960s! I want to live there!"
What is the purpose of the exhibition?
- Show a Soviet photograph of the XX century, which is almost forgotten. The Lumiere Brothers Center is the only one who has been seriously dealing with this issue for 13 years. It is impossible to see yourself in the context of world photography without understanding who stood at its origins and continued its traditions.
With what thoughts will people watch the exhibition?
- There is a lot of irony and humor in "Moscow stories". When we watched the post-perestroika material with the curators, we laughed and could not stop. For example, there will be a funny photographic document at the exhibition - people are selling things at the Bolshoi Theater. We have chosen works that will make the audience smile.
Exhibition “Moscow stories. XX century. Part II"
Center for Photography Lumiere brothers, June 26 - September 8