Boris Mikhailov: Temptation of Life
In his new artist’s book, Temptation of Life, Boris Mikhailov starts an expansive dialog that mixes earlier pictures with photographs from 2017, taken in a Soviet-time crematorium in Kyiv and its surroundings overgrown by nature. Other settings include the crumbling corners of East and West European cities, private bedrooms and public hospitals, gardens and night bars. In more than 200 photographic diptychs, Mikhailov creates a view of reality that changes over the pages of this book, a passage between times. Partly documenting and partly staging his subjects, he draws historical, human, technological, and cultural connections, while at the same time creating a distance from a purely narrative reading, from the immediate reality of what can be seen, by playfully stressing formal correlations between motifs on the pages. Where earlier artist’s books by Mikhailov, such as Case History and Unfinished Dissertation, were true classics of the genre, exploring life on Ukrainian streets or under Soviet rule; now, with Temptation of Life, the artist offers something like a philosophical résumé on the spirituality of the everyday and the perishability of all flesh and consumer waste, on sex, life, and death.