The last Empire - Serguei Maksimishin

Oscar Niemeyer Museum

By Oscar Niemeyer Museum

Photographic Record of the Exhibition The Last Empire - Serguei Maksimishin (2019)Oscar Niemeyer Museum

A frozen landscape. A table set outdoors. A young man, seated facing a tea cup and some bread pieces, ignores the camera. A tank crosses over the horizon. The protagonist, as well as young girl students from the Dagestan Theology School or the woman who crosses a snow-covered Kremlin, crystallize an eternal Russia that has always dodged straightforwardness. Through a bold and sensitive glance, the images captured in the last twenty-five years since the end of “the last empire” picture several facets of a country which for years remained on the fringe of the international political scene. Born in the 1964 and raised in Crimea, Serguei Maksimishin has had a singular life story. He started to photograph during his military service in Cuba. After finishing his physics studies, he worked for a brief period at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. It was only during the troubled 90s that he began working at the daily Izvestya, then one of the main newspapers in Russia. Maksimishin’s Russia is complex, contradictory and extreme. Scene portraits that encompass a number of meridians, from Kaliningrad to Kamchatka, allow the viewer to dive into the everyday life of a continental-size country. The photographer belongs to a generation who witnessed the fall of the Soviet Empire, and confronts us with settings in which the heritage of the tzarist era and the communist period remain present, albeit shamelessly recycled.The works displayed in the exhibition “The last empire” reveals the actors of the new Russia: politicians, soldiers, pioneers, religious figures, neo-Nazis, the nouveau riche… In surrealist paintings of a perplexing beauty, Maksimishin depicts the antagonisms of his country and the strength of the old Soviet system, whose legacy and debris still affect everyday life. In this regard, the poetry of Maksimishin’s work is closer to the dreamlike universe of Tenguiz Abuladze. As in the fable Repentance, his images don’t attempt to bring answers, but rather invite us to a disturbing reflection on the fate of a country.In a society where verticalism remains as current as in the old Soviet Union, and censorship is ever more back to daily life, the work of Serguei Maksimishin, equipped with a complex color palette and a virtuous gaze, is one of the most faithful portraits of contemporary Russia in all their feelings and ambiguities. [Luiz Gustavo Carvalho | Curator]

Untitled, Serguei Maksimishin, 2000, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Central Square, Serguei Maksimishin, 2006, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Theological College (2008) by Serguei MaksimishinOscar Niemeyer Museum

A wall, Serguei Maksimishin, 2003, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Moscow businessman and his wife on board of their private boat, Serguei Maksimishin, 2004, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Whelp's sell (1999) by Serguei MaksimishinOscar Niemeyer Museum

View from the metallurgic park of Donetsk, Serguei Maksimishin, 2009, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Untitled, Serguei Maksimishin, 2000, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Meeting of movement “Nashi”, Serguei Maksimishin, 2008, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Photographic Record of the Exhibition The Last Empire - Serguei Maksimishin (2019)Oscar Niemeyer Museum

Shojna settlement, Serguei Maksimishin, 2005, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Mao restaurant, Serguei Maksimishin, 2002, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Thermal baths (2006) by Serguei MaksimishinOscar Niemeyer Museum

Untitled, Serguei Maksimishin, 2017, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Mariinsky Theater, Serguei Maksimishin, 2002, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Children's playground in Magadan, Serguei Maksimishin, 2009, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Military preparation of cadets (2014) by Serguei MaksimishinOscar Niemeyer Museum

Peasants taking cattle to the slaughterhouse, Serguei Maksimishin, 2008, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Insemination’s Technician Masha and her sister Lyuba, Serguei Maksimishin, 2004, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Marriage at the village (2006) by Serguei MaksimishinOscar Niemeyer Museum

Child Reformatory, Serguei Maksimishin, 2000, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Tazovsky settlement, Serguei Maksimishin, 2004, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Untitled, Serguei Maksimishin, 2003, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Untitled (2003) by Serguei MaksimishinOscar Niemeyer Museum

Photographic Record of the Exhibition The Last Empire - Serguei Maksimishin (2019)Oscar Niemeyer Museum

Hermitag Museum (2003) by Serguei MaksimishinOscar Niemeyer Museum

The Kurban-Bairam Holiday, Serguei Maksimishin, 2004, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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The Kurban-Bairam Holiday, Serguei Maksimishin, 2004, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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The "Pioneer" fur farm, Serguei Maksimishin, 2002, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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"Lenin's mating call" restaurant, Serguei Maksimishin, 2003, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Beer festival (2000) by Serguei MaksimishinOscar Niemeyer Museum

Entertainement evening at "Kresti" prison, Serguei Maksimishin, 1999, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Sobering-up station, Serguei Maksimishin, 2003, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Devastated school, Serguei Maksimishin, 2009, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Untitled, Serguei Maksimishin, 2000, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Soldier (2000) by Serguei MaksimishinOscar Niemeyer Museum

Vladimir Putin (2001) by Serguei MaksimishinOscar Niemeyer Museum

“My portrait of Vladimir Putin is revered by both his followers and opponents. It’s amazing that in the office of Peskov, Putin’s press secretary, that particular photo is hanged. But in a great photography festival in Russia, I was asked by the organizers to send a series of portraits for an exhibition called “Faces”. However, when the festival was actually held, the image was removed for fear of putting the event at risk. By and large, the image has been published in several venues and is constantly met with a lot of evil. Those who don’t like Putin find it terrible; for those who love him, it looks formidable.”

Photographic Record of the Exhibition The Last Empire - Serguei Maksimishin (2019)Oscar Niemeyer Museum

Waiting for the school bus, Serguei Maksimishin, 2008, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Checkpoint, Serguei Maksimishin, 2005, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Untitled (2006) by Serguei MaksimishinOscar Niemeyer Museum

Chechen children playing in a fountain, Serguei Maksimishin, 2003, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Photographic Record of the Exhibition The Last Empire - Serguei Maksimishin, 2019, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Ferry through Irtysh river (2005) by Serguei MaksimishinOscar Niemeyer Museum

Anticapitalist meeting of the left youth movement, Serguei Maksimishin, 2010, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Vorobyovy mountains. Cable-way, Serguei Maksimishin, 2004, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Parade on the Victory Day, Serguei Maksimishin, 2010, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Fish factory, Serguei Maksimishin, 2006, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Untitled (2000) by Serguei MaksimishinOscar Niemeyer Museum

“In January of 2000, the village of Khankala, near the Grozny9 airport, became the main base of the Russian federal forces. I was there when they set up the first tents. The officials at the quarters, whom I’d met in the helicopter, warned me: “The commander doesn’t stand anyone with a beard. Sit inside the tent and don’t show your face!” I, regrettably, neglected the good advice.
When they landed, the day had gotten dark: the oil refinery was burning and the black smoke covering the sky created an absolutely surreal image. Four mortar projectiles were fired over our heads. Many soldiers were around, all of them busy with something. It wasn’t like in Mozdok10, where I had spent a week without taking a single picture. I had gone there to photograph!
Less than two hours went by until I bumped into the famous commander. “What is this bearded man doing here? Who let him in?” “The Army Chief of Staff”, I replied. “Get him out of here in the first helicopter”, the commander yelled.
I was taken to a tent and ordered to remain seated, in silence and without going anywhere, just waiting for the helicopter which should depart only the next morning. Late at night, I heard a powerful burst through the tent’s fabric. When I came out to inspect, an unfamiliar major-general was scolding a captain.
“Comrade-general, aren’t you from Ukraine?” “No, I’m from the Rostov region. And who are you?”
Thus I began talking with general Grigory Fomenko, future military commander of Chechnya. I complained about life, said I’d been idle for several days in Mozdok, told him I had been humiliated, reported the miserable outcome and made a request.
“All right, compatriot, tomorrow I’m bringing you to Grozny with me”, he promised. “But they’re going to take me in the first transport in the morning”, I said. “Go somewhere and I’ll find you”, he added. 

Keeping his word, the general came in the morning and we went to the Staropromyslovsky district, the only one in the Chechen capital that had been seized by the federal forces. But we couldn’t enter the city. Half a kilometer away from the Grozny high-rise buildings, on the other side of the road, soldiers hid behind an armored tank. We were told that a sniper was inside one of the buildings and shooting anything that moved along the roadway. A few minutes later a tank showed up, drove up to a certain distance and started firing at the nine-storey buildings. A brick-colored dust cloud rose up, allowing dwellers time to leave their homes. I ran towards the tank and took some photos. On my way back, I stumbled and fell on the mud, hitting hard against the camera hanging from my chest. No one allowed us through and we were forced to take a detour. We rode for about three hours, and I was able to take some much needed pictures thanks to general Fomenko. In Khankala they had already been searching for me, and two lieutenant-colonels accompanied me to a helicopter we boarded with the wounded to Mozdok. From time to time the vehicle took a sharp turn, and the stretchers carrying the injured were thrown all over the cabin. The next morning, I took the films to the only photo lab in town, located inside a department store. They had been partially damaged, and I found a boot mark on the image of the tumbling building. I didn’t retouch the scratches, for me they’re part of the composition.”

Photographic Record of the Exhibition The Last Empire - Serguei Maksimishin (2019)Oscar Niemeyer Museum

Novice Tatiana, Serguei Maksimishin, 2018, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Feeding the pigeons, Serguei Maksimishin, 2001, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Cadet’s school for children from poor families, Serguei Maksimishin, 2008, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Monastery, Serguei Maksimishin, 2018, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Meeting between pioneers and Komsomol veterans, Serguei Maksimishin, 2003, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Photographic Record of the Exhibition The Last Empire - Serguei Maksimishin (2019)Oscar Niemeyer Museum

Untitled (1964) by Serguei MaksimishinOscar Niemeyer Museum

Untitled, Serguei Maksimishin, 2010, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Washing at river Vaga, Serguei Maksimishin, 2006, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Russian Museum. Preparation for the opening of an exhibition of Aivazovsky, Serguei Maksimishin, 2000, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Old Russian woman with her dog, Serguei Maksimishin, 2006, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Playground (2006) by Serguei MaksimishinOscar Niemeyer Museum

Untitled, Serguei Maksimishin, 2008, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Village's church, Serguei Maksimishin, 2007, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Vladivostok's wharff, Serguei Maksimishin, 2009, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Untitled, Serguei Maksimishin, 2008, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Palm Sunday (2001) by Serguei MaksimishinOscar Niemeyer Museum

Christmas rites, Serguei Maksimishin, 2008, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Untitled, Serguei Maksimishin, 2004, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Two monks carrying an icon, Serguei Maksimishin, 2001, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Office workers of a bank celebrate a colleague’s birthday, Serguei Maksimishin, 2001, From the collection of: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
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Serguei Maksimishin - EntrevistaOscar Niemeyer Museum

Credits: Story

The last Empire - Serguei Maksimishin

Curatorship: Luiz Gustavo Carvalho
Promotion: Oscar Niemeyer Museum
Room: 2

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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