Case History. Text and photographs by Boris Mikhailov. Scalo, Zurich, 1999. 480 pp. Thick quarto. First edition. Hardbound in photo-illustrated dust jacket. Over 400 color reproductions.
"The break-up of the former Soviet union has brutally torn apart the social fabric across all of its former territories. Building a civil society and a functioning market economy will take a long time. Meanwhile, there are many who have lost everything-their jobs, their homes, their social network, their identity-roaming the streets, scrambling for food and alcohol, looking for a place to sleep. Boris Mikhailov has followed their lives for a number of years.
Case History is a collective portrait of those whose lives have fallen apart amidst the turmoil of epochal change, people whom history has left behind. Street kids getting high, adults looking for food, dirt-covered men and women washing themselves in Mikhailov's apartment, homeless people caressing each other's decrepit bodies: unflinchingly brutal and yet dignified images of aspects of the human condition that we prefer to repress.
"It seems to me that my personal uncertainty (it is not clear where I live-in Kharkov or somewhere in the West, where I work, etc.), my instability in society, on the formal level, has transformed the border between documentary and scenery within the framework of the documentary."
Case History is not just a chronicle of the crass reality of a historical transition. It is a ravishing work of art offering a bold, radically candid perspective on the human body, its weakness, and mortality. Mikhailov shows us how history has inscribed itself on the bodies of these Ukrainian homeless. He investigates the gruesome physical marks of social change. Gentle and brutal, wry and sad, a book that presents life in all of its contradictions and extremes."--The Publisher
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