Mikhail Tolmachev is a visual artist born 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 imagination, 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 (with distinction) and a postgraduate degree in Media Arts from the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig.

Mikhail is based in Moscow and Leipzig.


Another day of you and me under the conditions not of our own making

Photographic objects, 1-ch. sound, video-loop, 2018

The polystyrene photographic objects assembled for Another day of you and me under the conditions not of our own makingdepict debris of different scale and age.

It is remains of abandoned Byzantine settlements between Aleppo and Idlib in today’s Syrian Arab Republic and of contemporary ruins from the Syrian civil war. The video assembled together with the debris was filmed in Idlib in 2012. Shot by an unknown witness, the moving image does not let go of the sky. The handheld camera follows a dark object, disappearing and reappearing in the clouds. Is it a helicopter, a barrel bomb? Floating behind debris and sky a voice is talking of someone we do not know. The monologue encircles the condition of, and the fluid agency within, the relationship between spectator and event.

As an anti-narrative Another day of you and me under the conditions not of our own making is concerned with navigating the present moment of total fabrication rather than documenting an event. The entirely digital sources originate from antagonistic geographical, historic, and sociopolitical situations. Their mobilization as a moment of convergence between temporally remote and present conditions attempts to formulate observations on the vanishing gap between world and image.


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.