Yesterday's Sandwich




Boris Mikhailov (1938) lived in his hometown of Kharkov in the Ukraine until the collapse of the USSR. Trained as an engineer, he worked in a factory until 1968, but when he was forced to leave his job for leaving negatives of nude women in the company's darkroom, he became a photographer. A very influential visual artist, to be more precise, trying to explain, document and understand the world around him by exploring the range of the photographic medium. Yesterday’s Sandwich is the first book ever published on his fascinating early body of work entitled the Superimposition series. In this body of work from the late '60s and early '70s, he has overlaid two colour slides, creating fascinating 'sandwiches', i.e. beautifully composed tableaux of glamorous naked women, surreal urban landscapes and strange scenes of everyday Soviet life. An extraordinary double world of Soviet drudgery juxtaposed with sex and beauty.

Living under political censure, Mikhailov was never trained as a photographer but used the medium as a forum for free exchange which revealed controversial subject matter. Horrendous as it must have been for the Soviet elite – explaining why it took nearly 50 years for the images in Yesterday's Sandwich to see the light of day – Mikhailov was convinced that this, the more complicated truth inherent in two compressed realities, also has its place in art. "This was a period of hidden meanings and coded messages in all genres," Mikhailov writes in the essay accompanying the book. "Given the scarcity of real news, everyone was on the lookout for the smallest piece of new information, hoping to uncover a secret or read between the lines. Encryption was the only way to explore forbidden subjects such as politics, religion, nudity." Printed on unbound boards and packaged in a cardboard case, Yesterday's Sandwich embodies Mikhailov's role as artist, documentary photographer and social observer demonstrating his rich imagination and practical solutions for survival in an unstable society.