Ghosts of Innocence: Evgeny Mokhorev on Post-Soviet Childhood

“Your children are not your children,” wrote Kahlil Gibran. “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” Rarely has art captured this tension between intergenerational aspirations and meta/physical realities of social transition through the ages. The photography of Evgeny Mokhorev stands as striking testament to the volatility of both cultural and corporeal change. Mokhorev has been chronicling the underworld of St. Petersburg adolescents since 1990s. Shot in black and white, his subjects embody the challenges presented by the environments they inhabit. A haunting retrospective is currently on display at the Nailya Alexander Gallery in New York, an acclaimed space for Soviet and Russian photography.


Evgeny Mokhorev. Untitled (010-1), 2004. Courtesy of the Nailya Alexander Gallery, New York.


This is the third solo show Stateside for the artist and it features twenty five gelatin silver prints over the period of almost twenty years (1991- 2010). Mokhorev’s work often draws ire from moralists who fail to see beyond the taboo surface of (pre)pubescent nudity.  Void of eroticism, these photographs are at times reminiscent of the Ralph Eugene Meatyard oeuvre: spaces in stages of ruin, macabre masks, ever-momentary struggle of life and death caught in the vanishing lines and lingering light. Both photographers used the privilege of access to children in the natural habitat of kid dreamscapes to reveal isolation and disillusionment of their respective generations: post-War and Vietnam-era Americas and post-Soviet Russia. It is this alchemy that aligns their otherwise diverse creative trajectories.


Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Untitled (Boy with Flag), from "Portfolio Three: the Work of Ralph Eugene Meatyard" 1959


In regards to the perils of childhood and the conceit of parental dreams, Gibran too remarked: “You may house their bodies but not their souls / For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow / which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.” Yet Mokhorev, a candid guide, takes his audience on an enlightening if brief tour of that forbidden territory.


Evgeny Mokhorev. Untitled (Tolya, Ivan and Valya), 2004. Courtesy of the Nailya Alexander Gallery, New York.


The exhibition will run from through June 9, 2012 at the Fuller Building, 41 East 57th Street, Suite 704. Gallery Hours are 11am – 6pm Tuesday through Saturday or by appointment.

Alexey Timbul


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