The Worker and Kolkhoz Woman Exhibition Center presents a photographic chronicle of Russia, extensively traveled by Yury Abramochkin, an outstanding photojournalist. The retrospective is timed to celebrate the 80th anniversary and 55 years of work of the brilliant Soviet press photographer, a member of the Novosti Press Agency, one of the largest news agencies of the world (serving magazines LIFE, STERN, PARIS MATCH).
For half a century, Abramochkin’s destiny kept him in the so-called “Kremlin pool” of press photographers and allowed him to travel with his camera around the world. His photographs captured eight national leaders and a great number of foreign leaders including Richard Nixon, Yasser Arafat, Elizabeth II, Fidel Castro, and Margaret Thatcher. Yuri Gagarin smiles radiantly from his pictures (you remember Gagarin in Sochi wearing a straw hat, don’t you?). There is probably no single prominent politician of the second half of the 20th missing in Abramochkin’s portrait archive. And besides, there are also heroes of space exploration, famous designers, scientists, writers, artists, musicians, actors…
Yury Abramochkin managed to build up his special creative career in a country where the official stance regarding news making ended up with the expression “Nothing happens”. All of his pictures are amazing: reports, portraits, landscapes, memories of what does not exist anymore, and presentiments of the future. But the most valuable about his creative work is meeting people, widely recognized or unknown. He was one of the first photographers who introduced unstaged scenes of everyday life to the Soviet press photography.
Yury Abramochkin: “I’ve been collecting and preparing these images for 50 years of my life as a press photographer, without even understanding at first what I was doing. First of all, I would like to thank my characters; thanks to them I made my report successfully. It is a pity that circumstances would not allow me to photograph everything I would like to. I do hope that over time, my work will become a photographic chronicle of our time, generation, and country.”
The exhibition consists of some topical collections, the main one being the “Soviet genre” and Gagarin, followed by a portrait gallery of world politicians and cultural figures. A selection of pictures the photographer took abroad deserves some special attention: these have not been exhibited for more than 30 years. The retrospective ends with some recent works.
Abramochkin’s photographs are accompanied by small stories about the personalities they feature. The main exposition is located in the halls of the 2nd and 3rd floors of the exhibition center and represents the most important images as original, vintage silver-gelatin prints. The exhibition is supplemented with interesting items from Abramochkin’s personal archive: his photo equipment, press passes to different events, remarkable publications and video interviews.
About the author
Yury Abramochkin (b.1936) studied law at the All-Union Correspondence Institute of Law from 1963 till 1974. Since 1961, he simultaneously studied photography at the School of Photo Journalism at the Union of Journalists in Moscow and then worked as a photolaboratory assistant. Since 1961, he worked as a commissioned press photographer at the Novosti Press Agency in Moscow. In 1963, he joined the Union of Journalists of the USSR. In 2015, he became an academician of the Russian Academy of Arts. He has participated in a number of personal and all-Union exhibitions and large international projects. He is one of just 15 Russian press photographers included in the well-known American encyclopedia Contemporary Photographers published by St. James Press Chicago & London.
Awards and titles
A diploma of the Interfoto exhibition in Prague in the Economy category, 1962; a bronze medal of the Interpress-Photo exhibition in Moscow, 1966; award of the USSR Union of Journalists for the best political photo-report, 1969; the Honoured Worker of Culture of the RSFSR, 1977; a medal of the Interpress-Photo exhibition in Havana, 1979; a gold medal of the “Sport — the Ambassador of Peace” exhibition in Moscow, 1980; the “Golden Eye” award in the category “People in News”, Amsterdam, 1988; Yuri Gagarin anniversary medal, 1986; winner of the Russian Union of Journalists competition, 1989; a UN medal “For Special Contribution to Culture”, 2004; “Honour, Dignity, and Professionalism” honorary badge of the Russian Union of Journalists, 2011.
Selected international projects
Participated in the project One Day in the Life of America, 1986, along with 350 photographers from different countries;
Participated in the project One Day in the Life of the Soviet Union, 1987, along with 400 photographers from different countries.
Project supported by the RUSS PRESS PHOTO Project; curator Vasily Prudnikov.
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