(E-E) Ev.g.e.n.i.j ..K.o.z.l.o.v Berlin
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: exhibitions >> • Leningrad 80s • No.108 >>
Catherine Mannick Archive, USA
Hannelore Fobo, February 2022
In 2017, Saint Petersburg saw an exhibition of Alexander Boyko’s photographs of Leningrad’s cultural scene, with portraits of artists and musicians such as Viktor Tsoy (KINO), New Composer Igor Verichev, New Artists (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov and Timur Novikov, all taken between 1984 and 1986. The exhibition poster juxtaposes two portraits of Boyko – one from the time he was around these people and another one taken thirty years later for the exhibition. In both pictures, Alexander Boyko is looking through the viewfinder of his Nikon camera, ready to take a picture. The second picture is somewhat misleading, because Boyko turned to painting many years ago and now uses photography only to document his own works.
In the Soviet Union, owning a Japanese camera was a rare privilege. When I met Alexander Boyko in 2021 in Leipzig, where he lives with his family, he showed me this camera. I learned that is was an Nikon-sponsored camera from the 1984 Winter Olympic Games at Sarajevo, then Yugoslavia: the label Sarajevo ’84 Official Camera” is on the Nikon shoulder strap.
Whether Boyko acquired it directly from the photographer or from a Leningrad second hand shop I forgot, but it led to an intense period of picture taking – not only black and white portraits and street scenes, but also colour slides of artwork and exhibitions. This short but prolific period ended in 1986, when Boyko ran into problems with the KGB which confiscated almost his entire photo archive. Besides, Boyko heard that former KGB-officials now trade his pictures. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case. After all, an important part of his archive features Viktor Tsoy and the band KINO – now official heroes in Russia, with exhibitions supported by the Russian State. Whatever the case, Boyko has not been able to get his own material returned to him.
Luckily, quite a few of these pictures still exist in other archives, as he gave them away quite generously. Regarding colour reproductions of artworks, there is an important series shot during the 1984 New Artists exhibition at Timur Novikov’s studio and gallery ASSA. In 2017, I reconstructed, with the help of E-E Kozlov’s photo documentation, what appears to have been the first New Artists group show, and when I published the results, I also included some colour slides of Kozlov’s work Boyko sent us about ten years ago more >>.
But Alexander Boyko’s documentation of the exhibition was actually much more comprehensive. Thirty-two scans of slides with works by Kirill Khazanovich (3), Oleg Kotelnikov (10), Evgenij Kozlov (8), Timur Novikov (9), Ivan Sotnikov (1), and a collaborative work of Oleg Kotelnikov with Ivan Sotnikov came up in 2021, when I was working on Catherine Mannick’s archive of E-E Kozlov’s letters, mail art and other documents. Mannick’s archive is part of a larger donation to Harvard University, currently joining Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection: “(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov, Catherine Mannick, and Hannelore Fobo papers, 1979-1994 (inclusive)” external link >>.
Concerning those eight reproductions of Kozlov’s works in Catherine Mannick’s archive, I realised that they were almost identical with those of Alexander Boyko’s earlier gift in Kozlov’s archive. In a manner of speaking, they were "duplicates", although not quite, which means that after taking a picture, Boyko slightly changed the position of the camera (I would assume that he took them without using a tripod). Shooting each painting twice – perhaps not all, but many – he could keep one picture to himself and give one away. Among these reproductions is E-E Kozlov’s “Portrait of A. Boyko”, a photo collage from 1984 created with a picture from Boyko’s archive, and, in all likelihood, the only portrait of Alexander Boyko from that period.
Catherine Mannick received Boyko’s reproductions on the occasion of her visit to Leningrad in October 1984. Like many Soviet artists, Kozlov was hoping to establish non-official art abroad with the help of Western friends. In her letter to Evgenij Kozlov from December 1984, Catherine Mannick writes:
[Translated from the Russian by CM]
Also in Mannick’s archive is paper page from a 1984 calendar upon which Kozlov wrote four names – Олег Котельников, Е. Козлов, Кирилл Хазанович, Т. Новиков. The paper is slightly crumbled; possibly the artist used it to wrap the slides. A small symbol precedes each name / – / T / O / Z /, respectively; these symbols could have been written on the paper frames of the slides to designate the author of a specific work. This is just a guess because later, Catherine Mannick scanned the slides and the original slides no longer exist. For some reason, Ivan Sotnikov is not on Kozlov’s list, but Kozlov might have mistaken Sotnikov’s painting for a work by Oleg Kotelnikov, since it is stylistically close.
Alexander Boyko shot most paintings outside the flat, in daylight. Only some can be seen displayed on the wall during the exhibition, in the first place collages on paper. He used an East German Orwo film, as it yielded much better results than Soviet slide films more >>. The process of scanning the slides added a red/blue tint. However, judging by catalogue reproductions of the same works, in many cases, the colours are remarkably true.
Not all of these thirty-two works from Boyko’s series were actually displayed at the exhibition. On the other hand, some exhibited works are not included.
A small number of slides are still in Alexander Boyko’s archive, provided with the original paper frames. He scanned them for me, but also gave me one slide with a painting by Oleg Kotelnikov, plus some others taken on different occasions. Perhaps the other “duplicates” will turn up some day in some other private archive – whatever the case, the scans in Catherine Mannick’s archive have already become important historic documents.
Hannelore Fobo, Berlin, 1 March 2022.
A third picture taken on the same occasion is in the album "Timur Novikov"