Mikhail Tolmachev is a visual artist born in Moscow in 1983. In his work he investigates alternative documentary practices. His audio-visual installations, photo etchings, and spatial interventions examine the complex intersections of technology and territory, realism and speculation,
as well as the complicity of looking, scrutinizing different media constructs and their influence on the understanding of reality.
He studied documentary photography and theory in Moscow and holds a diploma and a postgraduate degree in Media Arts from the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig.



Dual slide-projection, 24 images, acrylic glass vitrine, 2017

In 1929, Maxim Gorki was commissioned by the Soviet secret service to write an article on one of the first forced labor camps in the Soviet Union, portraying its function in a positive light. During his two-day visit he saw staged scenes of labor, prisoners enjoying leisure time and undergoing re-education. These performances were orchestrated by the administration of the camp to make a positive impression on the famous guest. SLON is a dual-slide projection that gives a surreal perspective of the staging of forced labor, whereby prisoners become actors of the propaganda machine.

Pact of Silence
22 photographs, C-print, 7-channel sound, 2016

At the center of the work is a photographic album from the Soviet labor camp (1923 – 1937) on the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea.
The showing and telling of the album is a perfor-mance, and viewing the album in the company of others could be considered a shared spectatorial experience. What happens with the album when the compiler is gone and the story is lost?
Conceiving the album as an act of communication means reconstructing the story to fill the gaps by re-awakening the actors.
Sound, like the photographic moment, is transient; it situates one in the midst of events. Vision, by contrast, situates one in front of things.
22 re-photographed traces of photographs that had been torn out of the album are shown alongside a multi-channel sound installation that re-tells the story of the album as a museum object.

Line of Site
12 photo etchings, 2015

Sometimes images tell more about what is outside than inside the frame. No matter how intensely one studies a peaceful landscape, something remains untold. If only one could look away.
The series of landscape photo-etchings is based on photographs taken by Russian and Ukrainian photo agencies that depict enemy artillery positions of the military forces involved in the conflict of the Donbass region in the Ukraine, which started in 2014. We will discover what can and what cannot be learned.

Beyond visual range
Publication, 2015

Beyond Visual Range / Außer Sichtweite
Eds. Katerina Chuchalina and Mikhail Tolmachev
With texts by Iwona Blazwick, Katerina Chuchalina, Martin Schmidl,
Matthew S. Witkovsky
Berlin/Leipzig: MMKoehn
Design: Beton