Biography

Exhibitions

2024

  • «Art of Reality». 3rd Saint Petersburg Art Fair «1703». Russia (group exhibition)
  • «Future Dwelling». 2nd fair of contemporary art |catalog|. Moscow. Russia (group exhibition)
  • «The Family of Man» Center of Visual Culture Béton. Moscow. Russia (personal exhibition)

2023

  • «Vulnerable», «Deity's Likeness»,«Future Dwelling». 1st fair of contemporary art |catalog|. Moscow. Russia (group exhibition)
  • «BIOHACKING. Man-machine». Krasnokholmskaya Gallery. Moscow. (group exhibition)
  • «Future Dwelling». Marble Palace of the Russian Museum. St. Petersburg. Russia (personal exhibition)
  • «Photomontage. Reformed Truth». Cultural Center «Hermitage - Urals». Yekaterinburg. (group exhibition)
  • «Future Dwelling» Center of Visual Culture Béton. Moscow. Russia (personal exhibition)
  • «Deity's Likeness». The Vologda State Museum-Preserve. Vologda (personal exhibition)
  • «Reversed Safari. Contemporary African Art» The Manege Central Exhibition Hall. St. Petersburg. (group exhibition)
  • «Vulnerable». Far Eastern Art Museum. Khabarovsk (personal exhibition)
  • «Deity's Likeness». Far Eastern Art Museum. Khabarovsk (personal exhibition)
  • «Future Dwelling». 2nd Saint Petersburg Art Fair «1703». Russia (group exhibition)
  • «Deity's Likeness». Pakgauzy Cultural Center. Nizhny Novgorod (personal exhibition)

2021/2022:

  • «Vulnerable». Mordovian Republican Fine Arts Museum S.D. Erzia. Mordovian Republic.Saransk. Russia (solo exhibition)
  • «Future Dwelling». Gallery of Modern Art of The State Museum of Fine Arts of the Republic of Tatarstan. Kazan. Russia (solo exhibition)
  • «Photomontage. Reformed Truth» Center of Visual Culture Béton. Moscow. Russia (group exhibition)
  • «The Face» International photo exhibition. Vladivostok. Russia (group exhibition)
  • «Choosing a path». Novosibirsk State Art Museum. Russia (solo exhibition)
  • «Future Dwelling». Saint Petersburg Art Fair «1703». Russia (group exhibition)
  • «Vulnerable». Gallery of Modern Art of The State Museum of Fine Arts of the Republic of Tatarstan. Kazan. Russia (solo exhibition)
  • «Vulnerable». Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts. Yekaterinbur. Russia (solo exhibition)
  • «Vulnerable. Asian Diary» The State Museum of Oriental Art, Moscow. Russia (solo exhibition)
  • «Deity's Likeness». Gallery of Modern Art of The State Museum of Fine Arts of the Republic of Tatarstan. Kazan. Russia (solo exhibition)
  • «Vulnerable». Samara Regional Art Museum. Samara. Russia (solo exhibition)
  • «Vulnerable». The Photo Gallery Paffrath. Düsseldorf. Germany (solo exhibition)
  • «Future Dwelling». International Biennale "Art of the Future", Multimedia Art Museum Moscow, Museum «Moscow House of Photography». Moscow. Russia (group exhibition)


2021 г.
  • «Future Dwelling». IV International Interactive Festival of Contemporary Art ARTLIFE FEST. Moscow. Russia.
  • «Vulnerable». White Gallery. Novosibirsk, Russia (solo exhibition)
  • «Vulnarable», «Deity's Likeness». National Museum of Art and Photography. Group exhibition. (Olga Michi, AES+F, Konstantin Khudyakov, Francisco Infante-Arana, Oleg Dou, Valery Katsuba)
  • «Deity's Likeness». The General Staff. The State Hermitage Museum. Saint-Petersburg. Russia (solo exhibition)
  • «Vulnerable. The African Diary» The State Museum of Oriental Art, Moscow. Russia (solo exhibition)
  • «Vulnerable». Immagis Fine Art Photography. München. Germany (solo exhibition)
  • «Vulnerable». Central Exhibition Hall Manege, XII Moscow International Biennale Fashion and Style in Photography, Multimedia Art Museum Moscow, Museum «Moscow House of Photography». Moscow. Russia
  • «Deity's Likeness» international art center Main Avenue. Yekaterinburg. Russia (solo exhibition)

2020 г.
  • «Vulnarable», «Deity's Likeness». Cosmoscow International Art Fair. Moscow. Russia


Filmography

  • 2015 - Interview film "Michi's World. Following a dream". Shown during the personal exhibition "Michi's World. Following a dream".
  • 2016 - Documentary film "Massai: From Sand to Snow" in cooperation with RT
  • 2015-16 - Writer and presenter of a series of programmes called "Extreme Photography" on the Live Planeta channel. Russia.
  • 2016 - Documentary film "Small People Big Trees"

Shown at documentary festivals:

• Winner of the 25th International Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (Hot Springs, USA)

• Winner of the 42nd international film festival EKOFILM (Czechia)

• Winner of the Nevada Film Festival (Las Vegas)

• Winner of the Jury Diploma of the STALKER International Film Festival (Moscow)

• Fourth place finalist at the Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival (China)

• Finalist of the competitive programme of the ARTDOCFEST international film festival

• Participant of the non-competitive program of the International Film Festival Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

• Participant in the competitive programme (official selection) of the international PORTLAND ECOFILM film festival 2016 (Portland, USA)

• Finalist, American Documentary Film Festival 2017 (Palm Springs, USA)

• Participant in the competitive programme of the Peloponnese Documentary Film Festival 2017 (Kalamata, Greece)

• Participant in the Ethnografilm film festival 2017 (Paris, France)

• Participant in the competitive programme of the Rapid Lion International Film Festival (Cape Town, South Africa)

• Winner of the Natur Vision Film Festival (Ludwigsburg, Germany)

• Participant in the competitive programme of the Godollo International Film Festival (Hungary)

• Finalist in the competitive programme of the Ekotop International Film Festival (Slovenia)

• Winner of the Baikal International Film Festival (Russia)

• Winner of the International Film Festival of Red Cross and Health (Bulgaria)

Showings on TV

• 2020 - HD Life Russia.

• 2020 - "Kultura" TV Channel Russia.

  • 2016- closing film at the television festival "man and the sea- 2016"- "The Universe. Olga Michi"
  • 2017 - member of the jury for the 3rd Doker international documentary film festival
  • 2017 - member of the jury for the 13th "man and the sea" television and sea documentary film festival
  • 2018 - member of the jury for the 14th "man and the sea" television and sea documentary film festival
  • 2018 - documentary film "Missing Girls"

Shown at documentary festivals:

• Participant in the international DOCSMX programme 2018 (Mexico)

• Participant in the international ArtDocFest programme 2018 (Russia) Participant

• in the international Sputnik nad Polska programme 2018 (Poland)

• Special showing at the Doker 2018 festival (Russia)

• Film nominee for Best Non-fiction film "Laurel Branch" 2018 (Russia)

  • 2019 - member of the jury for the international premiere of "the Golden Unicorn"
  • 2021 - documentary film "My Friend the Yeti"

Shown at documentary festivals:

  • Participant Moscow International Documentary Film Festival 2021 (Moscow, Russia)
  • Participant in the Saratov Sufferings 2021 International Film Festival (Saratov, Russia)
  • Participant in the Russian documentary film festival "Russia" 2021 (Yekaterinburg, Russia)

  • 2022 - Documentary film "Detached"
Shown at documentary festivals:
  • The Grand Prix, the Prizes for the Best feature film and the Best cinematography of the Sixth Arctic International Film Festival "Golden Raven". Anadyr. Russia
  • Grand Prix, Best Documentary Film Award of the XXV All-Russian Shukshin Film Festival. Altai. Russia
  • Main Prix of the Non-Fiction Feature Film Competition of the International Film Festival "My Way". Ufa. Russia
  • Audience Award of The first International Film Festival of debut films of the Eurasian continent «One Sixth».Yekaterinburg. Russia
  • Award of Press-Juri of Baikal International Film Festival documentary and popular science films «Man and Nature». Irkutsk. Russia
  • Special mention for the contribution to intangible cultural heritagegoes to the film of International Festival of Ethnological Film. Belgrade. Serbia
  • Third Prize in the nomination "Best Documentary Film" of the XIX International Charity Film Festival "Radiant Angel". Moscow. Russia
  • Winner in the category "Best Eurasian Documentary Film" at the Eurasian Creative Guild Film Festival. United Kingdom.
  • Special mention of the Media Jury of the VII International Film Festival Arctic Open. Arkhangelsk. Russia
  • Diploma "For the artistic embodiment of the problem of preserving national roots" of the XV International Film Festival "Salt of the Earth". Samara. Russia
  • Honorable Mention by Jury in the Best Film Competition at the Archaeology Channel Film Festival. USA
  • Honorable Mention by Jury for Script at the Archaeology Channel Film Festival. USA
  • Honorable Mention by Jury for Narration at the Archaeology Channel Film Festival. USA
  • Honorable Mention by Jury for Music at the Archaeology Channel Film Festival. USA
  • Nominee Best debut film "Laurel Branch" 2022. Moscow. Russia
  • Participant of International Documentary Film Festival «Flahertiana». Perm. Russia
  • Participant of Festival of Russian Films "Window to Europe". Vyborg. Russia
  • Participant of the LAMP International Film Festival. Perm. Russia
  • Participant of Family Film Project. Porto. Portugal
  • Participant of the Second International Film Festival "Shape of Life". Perm. Russia
  • Participant of the Saratov Sufferings International Film Festival of Documentary Drama. Saratov. Russia
  • Participant of the Russian documentary film festival "Russia" 2021. Yekaterinburg. Russia
  • Participant of the International telekinofestival of the documentary melodrama "Saratov sufferings". Saratov. Russia
  • Participant of the Sixth Arctic International Film Festival "Golden Raven". Anadyr. Russia
  • Participant of the EthnoKino Film Festival. Bern. Switzerland
  • Participant of the International Festival "Reasonable Cinema". Moscow. Russia
  • Participant of the XIV Russian Film Festival, dedicated to strengthening interethnic unity of people of the Russian Federation "A man who learns the world".
  • Participant of the XXVIII International Human Rights Film Festival "Stalker". Moscow. Russia
  • Participant of the International Film Festival "My Way". Ufa. Russia
  • Participant of Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. USA
  • Participant of The Archaeology Channel International Film Festival. USA
  • Participant of Peloponnese International Documentary Festival. Greece
  • Nominee for the Award in the Field of Non-fiction Cinema "Golden Candle" in the category "Best Non-Fiction film". Moscow. Russia

  • 2022 - Member Jury of the VIII Photo Contest "The Most Beautiful Country"
  • 2024 – Documentary film "The Last Postmodernist. Andrey Chezhin"


Museum collection

  • The Ludwig Museum at the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Center of Visual Culture Béton, Moscow, Russia
  • Multimedia Art Museum Moscow, Museum «Moscow House of Photography», Moscow, Russia
  • The ETHNOS KALOS Foundation, Germany

Alexander Borovsky about Olga Michi

Olga Michi’s creative journey of the past decade has been intense, navigating diverse roles from TASS photo correspondent to hosting her own TV show (Extreme Photographer), blogging, travel photography, curating large-scale exhibitions, producing documentaries, publishing, and founding the Béton Centre of Visual Culture. All of these ventures have been crowned with success: her blog has a dedicated readership, her exhibitions have made the rounds of prestigious museums, her films have won awards and the Béton Centre has drawn a growing community of visual art enthusiasts.

Self-realization like this takes more than old-fashioned personal and creative qualities. It also requires contemporary crafts, from logistics management to tech proficiency, effective communication and nuanced production skills. All that and something extra, which is absolutely crucial for Olga Michi’s rare transition from film and photography to the sphere of contemporary art. This something extra is not easy to pin down, but I will try.

One of Olga’s best-known exhibitions has the title “Vulnerable”, which is a little paradoxical, because the word that springs more readily to mind for describing Olga is “invulnerable”. There are some fairly obvious reasons for that: this is a woman who, in her professional career, has smoothed an ominous conflict with the chief of the Papuan Korowai tribe, tramped the wilds of Guatemala and documented Nile crocodiles in their natural habitat.

But there is, I think, another side to Olga’s invulnerability, and that is what I want to explore here. The “travel and adventure” genre imposes distinct requirements. A journalist working in a war zone is not supposed to delve into philosophical abstractions, a photo-documentarist does not usually grapple with issues of visual representation, and travel and adventure (“ethnographic”) photography/film-making also has its stereotypes. The stereotypes at work are not necessarily unsubtle (modern optics has special devices for adding appeal to what is commonplace) but they are very definite and do not usually brook disobedience.

Olga Michi has proved surprisingly “invulnerable” to the stereotypes of ethnographic photography and film-making, to what might be called “the rules of a shoot”: the text-book approach to situational, geographical, ethnographic, and ethnic aspects; compositional, technical and other practices. This is evident in her documentary films where Olga works intentionally with a mixture of genre settings: documentary-ethnographic and story-based narrative.

In her film In the Shadow of the Big Trees, Olga Michi weaves a distinctive ethnographic narrative, exploring the life of a remote Pygmy village with its ancient trades and archaic food-gathering techniques, infusing the storyline with a Lévi-Straussian cultural-anthropological lens that highlights mythology, symbolic exchange, and magical practices. But against this exotic backdrop an almost Chaplinesque tragicomedy unfolds – the tale of a father, burdened by the challenges of “new times”, and his wayward son captivated by pop music emanating from a radio set that symbolizes the encroachment of modern civilization. From being a purely ethnographic account, the film becomes a profoundly human story, reminiscent of Hans Fallada’s Little Man, What Now?

Olga Michi’s willingness to transcend conventional boundaries in a documentary film suggests that she will also dare to take risks in photography, where her previous experience was in the mainstream, World Press Photo tradition. Vulnerable – both the exhibition and the album printed by teNeues publishing house – show how she made the terrifying step from mainstream photography into the realm of contemporary art.

Vulnerable consists of dozens of digital photographs categorized into three themes: African tribes, peoples of South-East Asia, and inhabitants of Chukotka in the remote Russian north-east. Here is how the artist articulates her objectives in making this collection: “The viewer finds themselves at the epicentre of a global dilemma, a choice between past and future, diversity and unity, fragmentation and unification. In this intricate situation, vulnerability refers not only to the representatives of minority protagonists in the photographs, but also to the project’s viewers who, consciously or unconsciously, play a role in the ongoing choice of what should be kept and what sacrificed.”

The vulnerability of the viewers also has to do with their situation as members of a relatively well-to-do majority whose connection with the theme of indigenous peoples feels situational, temporary, non-committal, imposed by political correctness and the artist’s deliberate efforts.

But what interests me here is not so much the social message as the artistic dimension itself. One part of Vulnerable, the “African Diary”, which portrays ethnic groups in contemporary East Africa, certainly gives prominence to the ethnographic dimension. Attention to anthropological specifics is inevitable when an artist engages with such rare and raw material. The people of the Mursi, Hamar, Surma and Daasanach tribes, adorned with unique artefacts, come to life through the camera lens. Claude Lévi-Strauss viewed indigenous face painting as a process of recreating the hidden, imbuing social significance, expressing human dignity and spiritual qualities. In Michi’s portrait images, these layers are palpable, inviting the viewer to unravel and interpret the profound richness embedded within.

But suppose we now examine these images through the lens of contemporary art. Beyond the previously mentioned aspects, a prominent overarching goal emerges, which is to actualize the relationship between physicality and artificiality (projection, fabrication). Ever since the experiments of the 1920s, photography has willingly transcended its boundaries, seeking a sense of thinghood and “new objectivity” in a way that has always embraced moments of experimentation and staged scenarios.

In Michi’s works, the characters seamlessly integrate cobs of maize or bunches of berries into their hairstyles, completing their image with various attributes, whether animal bones or unexpected machine-made items. I take it that this was a deliberate choice by the portrait subjects themselves. Each of them came to the shoot adorned in colours of their choosing and with attributes that they deemed significant. The interpretation varies: one might perceive a naive hope for connection by the showcasing of objects from an alien world, or a defensive reaction, a prickliness, in response to this external interference.

Most importantly, the photographic medium seamlessly integrates the possibilities of apperception: not only the visual but also the tactile element is at work. Michi’s ethnographic photography embraces contemporary art’s penchant for appropriating elements from “alien” pictorial languages. Her portraiture practice integrating elements from the plant world echoes the images of Arcimboldo, with their interpenetration of the anatomical and the floral. Similarly, the women’s colouring in pointillé on a whitewashed background is reminiscent of Yayoi Kusama’s psychedelic polka-dot pattern in her infinity rooms. Digital retouching (we might call it “Michi’s digital witchcraft”) is a deliberate and conscious technique of contemporary art.

While Vulnerable can be seen as a transitional phase in Michi’s work, the exhibition Future Dwelling (a collaboration between Olga Michi and art critics Alexei and Artem Loginov) belongs clearly to the ethos of contemporary art. The theme of futuristic architecture holds a cherished place in Russian art and can be traced from Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s architectural and social utopias, embracing notions of positive and harmonious life-building. This rich tradition encompasses such visionaries as Malevich, Khlebnikov, Ladovsky and representatives of the VkhUTEMAS art school, whose impacts vary from romantic globalist perspectives to the creation of progressive social housing (workers’ towns of the 1920s). Each of them made new contributions to the concept of future dwelling and placed that future at different distances, near or far, from ourselves.

Michi and her colleagues do not aim to compete with ever-evolving concepts of architectural futurology. The large-format (1.8 x 3 meters) digital pictures of the exhibition have dual significance. On the one hand they pay homage to classical painting, referencing a systematic organization of space and subtly alluding to classical perspective. Any deviations or disruptions of this perspective are immediately readable and have a meaningful character. On the other hand the parameters, which they establish, are not those of a particular architectural formation but of a functional space: changes may occur, but the fundamental parameters of a rectangular volume persist, with constant width and height, but indeterminate, “floating” depth that requires visual objectification. Interestingly, this simple geometry of a “way in” to space also allows for the potential introduction of augmented reality – a portal that operates in 360° mode.

The primary focus is on the concept of filling and adaptation to function – a pragmatic approach that avoids the inclusion of capsules, bioforms, or other fantastical architectural designs. This standardization keeps the viewer’s attention fixed on the main theme.

The functions and purposes assigned to the future dwelling are also standardized, from a library to a greenhouse, gym, office, and even a machine room. Despite the infusion of science-fiction elements, these spaces are not vastly different from their traditional counterparts. Some of the works – an intricate zoo or a greenhouse in vibrant purple bloom – give more rein to imaginative freedom, as far even as a techno-version of Bosch’s phantasmagoria. But, on the whole, the envisioned future remains recognizable and closely tied to current reality.

Surprisingly, objects from our current material world also find a place in this future setting: featureless office chairs and gym exercise machines persist. The inclusion of these familiar items, taken into the future, seems to serve as an everyday visual standard, to be contrasted with a “sublime” standard that refers not to everyday life but to the ahead-of-time creativity embodied in Tatlin’s Tower (the Monument to the Third International) which is an undercurrent of all these future dwellings. According to the exhibition authors, Tatlin’s monument is what “mankind will take with it to uncharted territories”. It is an obvious choice, since Tatlin’s Tower remains a constant object of adoration and interpretation in contemporary art by such figures as Sherrie Levine, Dan Flavin, Ai Weiwei, and others.

The Future Dwelling artists seem to have purposely avoided extravagant solutions. They have deliberately reduced the degree of invention. Such restraint may stem from acknowledgment that the audience, particularly the younger viewers at whom the project is specifically aimed, has already been exposed to unrestrained experiments in the realm of alien reality through sci-fi movies and games. I think, though, that proper understanding of the Future Dwelling series requires a brief exploration of the “deadpan” trend in contemporary art and photography.

The most obvious application of deadpan is in the portrait genre, where the model is captured “as-is”, dispassionately and without emotion, devoid of any attempt to assume a character. The artist refrains from characterization, psychologism and staging.

The concept of deadpan takes on a broader meaning in large-format landscapes or urban prints by artists such as Gursky, Bals and Hazzink, who seamlessly blend traditional and modern technologies, using both large-format cameras and digital “orchestration”. Here, impassivity carries connotations of objectivity or (as formulated by Charlotte Cotton in The Photograph as Contemporary Art) omniscience. The artist creates a visual platform that allows the viewer to perceive reality epically, with a completeness that transcends individual viewpoints and angles.

The approach contrasts with the individualistic and expressive stance of 1980s photography. Omniscience immerses the viewer in a visual reality disciplined by panoramic vision, digitally synthesized from numerous individual fragments. Cotton aptly likens this manner of perception to an orchestra conductor, who views all of the players at once and manages entries of the various sections of the orchestra as the music is performed.

The Future Dwelling series is deadpan in both its poetics and its technology. The artists deliberately refrain from attention-grabbing techno-tricks and whimsies, and deadpan impassivity is synonymous with the epic: nothing must impede the process of apperception, where images – even those, which show predictions of the future – are to be accepted as given.

The other reality of these future dwellings is remarkably persuasive. The images vary greatly, but they are consistent in presenting something that is plausible, objective and independent of the viewer’s and artist’s moods and expectations. Whether inhabited by an anthropomorphic cyber crowd, scurrying, flying and flickering, or filled with an array of archaic pipes and unprecedented utility systems, the “stuffing” of each print does not rely on science-fiction technology, but on the essence of visuality itself – optics that serve as a means of navigation within the proposed space. The three dimensions of space are always evident. In some works the space of the dwelling is anchored in the background, while others present a fluid, illusory plane, constantly moving away and captivating the eye and consciousness of the viewer.

If Charlotte Cotton likened the perception of monumental digitalized images to conducting an orchestra, my interpretation of the visuality of this project is as a woman examining a fabric. She holds it up to the light, visually assessing its quality, texture, pattern, and any possible imperfections. The fabric is on a roll that unfolds endlessly, mirroring the processuality of perception in this project, where the visual fabric stretches limitlessly.

The Russian poet Osip Mandelstam had the concept, “armed with vision.” For me the purpose of the Future Dwelling exhibition is to arm the contemporary art audience, especially young people, with a new experience of vision and visualization.