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Ode to a photographer Evgeny Ivanov

This is only my opinion, and anyone may disagree, but I think, that Evgeny Ivanov is a genius of documentary photography. Therefore my post about him turns out a real ode. Well, let it be an ode.

Each of his art works are profound. Always emotional, rich with details and well composed. And yet, the main thing in his photography is meaning. He looks into the very depths of the humanity, which is dark, vulnerable, ridiculous and absurd. But his view is not arrogant, hysteric or accusing. He is one of us. A participant and an observer at the same time. Thinking of how to present his work, I decided to arrange them according to the logic of my subjective perception, from hard to more or less fun.

«Homo Demonstraticus» The pictures of people with banners were taken in various political and religious demonstrations. When I look at these portraits, I feel nausea, something like when you see the insides, or the truth that you do not want to see. The collective unconscious of the Russian mentality is almost visible here. Icons, words and symbols on posters suddenly appear as symptoms of repressed fears and aggression. I try to imagine how these photos can be seen from the American perspective, and I recollect Diane Arbus’s work. Both authors sweep boundary between normality and deformity, informing viewers on a meta-level that this differentiation is conditional.

"My Friend is a Street Musician." Evgeny Ivanov began to create this photo-essay about the everyday life of his friend Oleg Fimin for the contest "Russian Press Photo 2004". Within the same day the photographer received the award and news about his friend's death. Ivanov continued the series adding photographs of the funeral and abandoned apartment. This unexpected ending gave the photo-story a philosophical meaning. The project questions about the meaning of an individual life and about a person's place in society, as well as what is a normal, successful or unsuccessful life.

“Veterans of the Second World War”. Evgeny Ivanov is especially well-known because of the the Second World War veterans’ portraits. It's hard to find a more controversial topic in contemporary Russian context. On the one hand it's a bravura pathos, and creating of the national idea, while on the other the people who went through this terrible war and now often live in poverty.

​The project consists of several series which present the theme from different points of view. Portraits are made against the background of private interiors which preserve lifestyle and material culture of the 1950's, 60's, and 70's. Through these things private individual destiny emerges, blended with the country's history. These people fought for someone's ideas which they believed in, for a country which is no longer on the map. In an interview, the photographer said that he had worked on the project because he had been interested in people who have lived hard and complicated lives. He questions what it means to be old, when life is lived. In the series of photographs "The Danger of Forgetting" criticism of the victory cult is seen particularly clear. The photographs present how attention to people are replaced by awards and medals. The series makes you think about the price of human lives.

A favorite technique of Evgeny Ivanov is panorama which shows all space around. Photograph gets length like a story, or frozen film. The series "Panoramas of Novosibirsk" represents public and private spaces, where the daily life of citizens occurs in streets, parks, friends’ apartments, kindergartens and schools, public baths and polls. Life is life hard and absurd.

The series "Our House 2" presents a kindergarten's everyday life. It is another banal topic which Ivanov managed to fill with existential meaning. He showed the children everyday life as adults’ life, full of emotional experiences, relationships and events.

“A Remote Journalist” is probably the most fun series. The photographer creates a character of the journalist who produces photo-reportages, without leaving his home by taking photos from his TV set. Taken from screen the pictures are overly bright, with a noticeable raster and low resolution. Uniformity of style equalizes celebrity wedding, sport events and mass disasters, thereby exposing the entertaining nature of any media news. The project is full of irony.


Eugeny Ivanov is a photographer since 1977. Since 1987 he is a photographer of the Novosibirsk Theatre of Opera and Ballet and the Novosibirsk State Philharmonic. Since 1999 he is a member of the Union of Photographers of Russia. Currently he is the chairman of the Novosibirsk Regional Branch of the Union of Photographers of Russia.

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