“These photographs are dedicated to the Blaue Horse group. This group or movement of young people, many of whom were students in my home city at the end of the 1950s, deep in the Soviet times, loved the Beatles, danced to rock and roll, and dreamt about the freedom of the West. They came under great pressure from the government ... four of them were convicted and went to jail ... for pornography (convicting someone for madness or pornography was one of the ways used to crack down on any opposition). As one of the main proofs, the court was presented with photographs of these young people on the beach, in swimwear, striking ”Western” poses. ... I started with my photography about five years later; it was the time when it was forbidden to shoot many– or almost all—thing, but no one kills for it already ...” (Boris Mikhailov)
Photographer Boris Mikhailov (born 1938) dedicates his new volume Diary to the “Blaue Horse” group, a group of young people, many from his Ukrainian hometown of Kharkov, who were persecuted and jailed by Soviet authorities at the end of the 1950s for “pornography,” a catchall accusation that could accommodate crimes like loving the Beatles and dancing to rock and roll. Mikhailov introduces this collection of his Soviet-era photographs by explaining that he took up photography in the shadow of that moment of repression, aware that almost all of his subjects and images would run foul of the party line. In this new artist’s book, Mikhailov’s photographs―showing daily life in the Soviet Union, in color and black and white, in the unblinking style for which the artist is known―are presented without further comment, arranged in an intimate scrapbook style.