Renewal and Metamorphosis: Russian Photographs

4 Feb

“The medium of photography excels at universally communicating the individual reality and imaginative artistry of other countries and their peoples” – Navigator Foundation

By: Tyson Dion

 “Renewal and Metamorphosis” is comprised of emotionally charged pictures from Russian photographers. The photographs themselves are expressive enough, but when you add the presence of the Foundation’s director, Murray Forbes, they become incredibly captivating, due to his intoxicating passion for these images. Forbes has intimate knowledge of each and every photograph in the exhibit, which he shared during a lecture to roughly 50 or 60 students and guests at Salem State University last Tuesday.

russian4The original exhibition contains 117 images while the Winfisky Gallery has a selection of only 26, still showcasing a great range of style and approaches of Russian Photography from World War II until the early 1990′s. “We have Russian artists who are famous in literature, art, music, the ballet and many other fields of arts but who are also very powerful in photography. This is Russian culture. It reflects today. It reflects the last 50 years,” says Forbes.

 Forbes informed the group that Russia does resemble America in some ways. Both countries have vast land that was acquired, settled, or occupied after 1800. However, this is where the commonalities seem to end. The first few images in the exhibit are used to express the emotions Russians felt during World War II. On February 2, 1943, the Battle of Stalingrad ended. It lasted roughly six months and historians believe approximately one million Russians died. Seeing the images of war and the aftermath through the eyes of Russian photographers shows how these cultures are quite different.

Looking out over a crowd of mostly college students, Forbes challenged them to become russian3more valuable citizens. Acknowledging the college experience as a time to become educated and informed, he spoke of something more important, something beyond, called civilization. “We ought to reflect that when you go to college and whatever you do thereafter, part of the real object and a valuable by-product of going to college, learning, is to come closer to civilization,” he told them. “To know something about it.  To see into it. To have it in some way.”

Hopefully the crowd heard the calling.

“Renewal and Metamorphosis: Russian Photographs from the Navigator Foundation” is on view at the Winfisky Gallery in the Ellison Campus Center through February 7th.

Tyson Dion is a senior at Salem State University.

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