Pact of Silence

22 photographs, C-print, 7-channel sound installation
At the centre of the work is a photographic album from the Soviet labor camp SLON (1923 - 1939) on the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea.
Pact of Silence focuses on the ambivalent visual memory culture in Russia and at the same time calls up the role of “doing the telling”, of spoken testimonies and Oral History.
In order to trace the album’s origin, Mikhail spoke to its last owner as well as to archive employees in the Moscow GULAG museum and travelled to the Solovetsky Islands in order to listen to the historian of the local history museum. These spoken testimonies and extracts from the album were developed into an audiovisual installation.

Line of Site
12 photo etchings

The series of 12 photo etchings show different landscapes: Their motives are based on photographs taken by Russian and Ukrainian photo-agencies. Those original images represent the opposing artillery positions of the military forces involved in the conflict of the Donbass region in Ukraine, which started in 2014. The photo-etchings, however, zoom onto the background of these photographs and thereby extract certain elements of the scenery. At the same time, they are blending the visual material from the opposing sides of the frontline.

Beyond visual range

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

Natural Zones

4-channel silent video, 3D model, C-prints
Natural Zones is an attempt to make a connection between event, space, and its maximum documentary representation in the realm of existing images. The disembodied perspective of a drone provides a panoptical overview of the landscape, reconstructing the illusion of hyper-visibility.
Construction Project 501–503, a 1.200 km long railway in the Arctic zone of Western Siberia, was one of the most striking examples of the utopian projects of the Stalin era. In the 1930s–1950s, these distant spots were regarded as a prison without bars due to the inaccessibility of the territory and the severity of the climate.

Translators and listeners
21 C-prints
Translators and Listeners is a montage of 21 hand drawn sketches by Nikolai Zhukov, Art Director of the Greko Studio of Military Art painters. After World War II, while working as a correspondent for the Russian Pravda newspaper, he was dispatched to cover the Nuremberg
Trials in 1946. In courtrooms, photo cameras are often prohibited and it is believed that photograph distorts the human behaviour, which may influence the outcome of the trial. Even a steadfast gaze on an event or an individual might provoke psychological tension in the latter. Armed with a pair of high-magnification binoculars, Zhukov thus made his sketches from a lon distance, far away from the accused and their lawyers
who tried to avoid excessive attention. In the 40 days he spent in Nuremberg, Zhukov made arround 400 sketches of the accused, of defence councils prosecutors, judges, and journalists. Translators and Listeners, by choosing only images which are depicting the work of translators and
the acts of listening, aims at emphasising the peculiariy of every media activity. One can see the interpreter listening to the participants’ speeches crossexaminations through earphones, and court recorder taking down every word spoken unde oath.