At a time when Mr. Putin is doing his best to remind the world of a Russian desire for political and social domination we haven’t seen since the Cold War, the deMenil Gallery at Groton School is showing us another side of the Russian cultural soul in a brilliant show of photographs taken in the time between WW II the 1990’s. This timespan allows this exhibit to give us glimpses of work done during periods of popular patriotism and periods of cultural repression; in war and in the bright, wide open yearning of the late 1980’s. Most importantly, I think, it gives us a glimpse of the Russian people without political overtones at all.
There are war pictures, stark and dynamic; images of the cold and barren steppes we might think of when asked to picture the hinterlands of Siberia; workers, miners, factories and city streets. There are peasants and children, dogs and still-life fish. There are montaged images, formal studies, experimental ideas, alternative processes, wide-angle, close-up, landscape, portrait…you name it.
Most of all, there is a whole lot of really great work. See it.