Misha Friedman photography exhibition explores corruption in Russia

May 1, 2015
Sydney Hawkins,
Katherine Weider-Roos, 734-674-7314, kathwe@umich.edu or Rachel Brichta, 734-764-0351, weisercenter@umich.edu or Sydney Hawkins, 734-615-8765, sydhawk@umich.edu


DATE: May 9-June 20, 2015 (gallery hours are noon-7 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays)

PLACE: Stamps School Work Gallery, 306 S. State St., Ann Arbor

EXHIBITION: “Photo 51: Is Corruption in Russia’s DNA?” features the work of Misha Friedman, a documentary photographer and recent Pulitzer grantee whose primary focus is on humanitarian work.

This particular body of work captures the pervasive culture of corruption in Russia.

“What I’ve come to define as corruption goes beyond any one act and points to the acceptance of the whole system of it,” Friedman said. “Things that are not normal—bribing, beatings, adultery, cronyism, negligence, chauvinism, lying and the cynicism of elected officials—are borne as normal.”

“Photo 51” refers to a nickname for the first X-ray diffraction image taken in 1952 that was a breakthrough for researchers trying to model the structure of DNA. While Friedman’s photos appear to be normal everyday scenes of life in Russia, he specifically chose those locations because of their apparent banality as a way to reveal a system that is corrupt from top to bottom—a metaphor linking this corruption to Russia’s DNA.

The exhibition consists of 11 panoramic prints, each about 30 x 80 inches wide. Friedman was involved in selecting the specific prints for the exhibition, which will travel to other university galleries following the presentation at U-M.

Friedman was born in Moldova, then considered part of the Soviet Union. He immigrated to the United States in 1991 when he was 14, and currently lives in New York City. Friedman has a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s in Russian and post-Soviet studies.

INFORMATION: The exhibition is free to the public. Visit myumi.ch/6wlPq. Images are available at myumi.ch/JmnKy.

SPONSORS: This project was made possible with a grant from the Institute of Modern Russia. U-M sponsors include the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies; Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies; and Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design.