Postwar photography in Russia is a kind of ‘black hole’ of meanings.
Press photographers have certainly existed, but their works never conveyed a true picture of the corresponding time and environment.
This is only natural since press photographers have been fulfilling an ideological order. Whatever virtues may be inherent to their photos, these are yet waiting for a comprehension as a result of a photographer’s activity in an ambience of perpetual lies.
As a contrast to the official photography, amateur photographers’ societies start to appear in the late 60s, and home-made photography spreads wide. However, even within this strata, only few authors have the courage not to submerge into the ‘inner emigration’, but to be consistent in critical study of the social environment. In a way, this is true regarding the acclaimed Boris Mikhailov. This is even more true about Valery Schekoldin, who is a real underground journalist of his time.
‘Art of degeneration’ is a result of his activities in the period of 1968-1981. This is the time of Leonid Brezhnev’s rule in Russia/USSR, which is comprehended by some as a time of utter stagnation and decay, that would eventually lead to the USSR breakdown, – and by others as a nostalgic time of the highest rise of the Soviet Empire.
With his photography Schekoldin shows us what life really looked like then. This is life as seen not through the rosy lens of the communist press, neither through bitter dissident hatred. This is a result of a rigorous stare into faces and souls of the contemporaries of the era.
To view some of Valery Schekoldi photographs please click here.