Mikola Gnisyuk, People in Trees (The Rooks Have Arrived), 1964. Courtesy of Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography, Moscow
Following Stalin's death in 1953 , his successor, Nikitia Khrushchev tentatively opened a period of episodic reforms that became known as “The Thaw.” During this brief window Soviet artists found space for the development of a "personal voice" and new modes of self-expression. These reforms created the possibility of closer contact with non-Communist nations, including the United States, which presented two important U.S.-organized art exhibitions in Moscow in 1959 – Edward Steichen’s Family of Man and the American National Exhibition.
This year's FotoFest 2012: Bienniel - Contemporary Russian Photography, which opens today in Houston, explores this period as it pertains to photography with After Stalin, “The Thaw”: The Re-emergence of the Personal Voice:
Many of the works in this section of the Russian exhibitions are vintage photographic prints on loan from private collectors Natalia Grigorieva and Edward Litvinsky, founders and owners of the Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography in Moscow, founded in conjunction with one of the first private galleries in Russia devoted to fine art photography.
Other works come from members of Novator, one of the most important and enduring of the independent Russian photography associations, founded in the early 1960s by individual photographers and photography lovers in Russia. More than photo clubs, the intent of these associations was to open a space where photographers could present and discuss new ideas in photography, and re-visit the unofficial, often banned, works of Russian-Soviet photography of the previous three decades. Members of these associations shared historical and contemporary works not approved by the state.
Two other major exhibits include: Perestroika, Liberalization and Experimentation, mid-1980s–2010 and The Young Generation, 2007-2012.
FotoFest 2012 will be on view through April 29. Wish I could be there.