It might be terribly unfair of us to focus on one artist in FotoFest 2012 Biennial: Contemporary Russian Photography, but the show is so huge (more than 1,000 photographs by some 150 Russian artists covering the time from the late 1940s to 2012), it’s almost impossible to take it all in at once. Instead, we’ll discuss one representative photographer, Dmitry Vyshemirsky. Irina Chmyreva, one of the curators for this year’s festival and a senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Fine Arts, explains, “He was one of the first who discovered the subject of Stalin’s camps. Because of his photos, people really saw that the camps were, because many people didn’t believe.” That was in the 1980s. Since then, Vyshemirsky has been living and working in Kaliningrad, capturing the unique cultural mix there in a documentary series. “It was a very famous German city, then Soviet city, then post-Soviet city. Right now this project is at the Russian Cultural Center and is called ‘Post,’ because it’s post-German, post-Soviet, even post-Perestroika. Also, it’s post for him after many other projects.” Vyshemirsky neatly represents the spirit of the festival — that is, an unblinking eye willing to look at all of Russia, from its gloried and pained history to its hopeful, if uncertain, future.
The FotoFest 2012 Biennial opening-night party is at 8 p.m. FotoFest Headquarters Gallery, 1113 Vine. The exhibit there is “The Young Generation 2007-2012.” Regular viewing hours there are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Through April 29. For a full schedule of other exhibits and events, call 713-223-5522 or visit www.fotofest.org. Prices vary.
March 16-April 29, 2012