Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sergey Bratkov: Heldenzeiten
Winterthur, Switzerland
Fotomuseum Winterthur
Now through August 24

Viewers of this mid-career retrospective of Ukrainian-Russian photographer Sergey Bratkov can witness socialism veering precipitously into capitalism. In more than 130 images taken following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Bratkov captures the everyday lives of people ranging from secretaries to street children, starting with a display of art-action documents from avant-garde '90s Ukrainian collective the Fast Reaction Group, a nod to the artist's early days. More recently, Bratkov's Kids series depicted children auditioning for advertising roles, posing like young Lolitas caught between two ages, much like post-Soviet society itself. For Army Girls, Bratkov introduced himself as a Playboy photographer and snapped female soldiers wearing full military gear in centerfold-ready poses. This ironic show title, Heldenzeiten (Glory Days), evokes the ideological clichés of heroic portraits, as exemplified in Bratkov's Steelworkers series. - Marlyne Sahakian

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