Masha Ivashintsova "Brought to Light"

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Masha Ivashintsova was heavily engaged in the Leningrad poetry and photography underground movement from 1960s to 1980s. She was in relationships with three famous Soviet personalities of the time; photographer Boris Smelov, poet Viktor Krivulin, and linguist Melvar Melkumyan, who is also an Asya’s father. Her love for these three men, who could not be more different, defined her life, consumed her fully, but also tore her apart. She sincerely believed that she paled next to them. She did not share her photography, her diaries, and poetry with anyone during her life. As she wrote in her diary: “I loved without memory: is that not an epigraph to the book, which does not exist? I never had a memory for myself, but always for others”.

Masha Ivashintsova "Brought to Light"
Masha Ivashintsova

The Masha Ivashintsova archive contains a photographic record of everyday life in the Soviet Union and post-communist Russia. It is a street photography, but also photography about the ‘self’, about Masha’s reflective consciousness as a prism of her reality and destiny. The calmness of these photographs lies in stark contrast to the fact how torn the artist was throughout her life.

It is symbolic that the first world exhibition of Masha Ivashintsova works takes place in Poland. Her grandfather Alojzy Świetlik was a polish national and her father Yuri Ilyichev died in 1944 near Warsaw during the World War II. „It was not specifically planned like this and therefore is especially surprising”, says her daughter Asya.

We are exhibiting Masha Ivashintsova’s negatives untreated – with all of the scratches, dust, and mold left by time – the same state in which Masha’s daughter Asya found them. Therefore the images are placed on light boxes. Masha’s photographs are like the streets of Saint Petersburg she photographed, cleaned or not, reflecting life in the cold northern sun.

The exhibition is curated by Katarzyna Gębarowska and Masha Galleries.

Masha Ivashintsova (1942—2000) was a completely unknown photographer until late 2017, when 30,000 of her negatives and around 1000 prints together with hundreds of pages of personal diaries were discovered by her daughter Asya and her husband Egor in their family home in Saint Petersburg. The discovery made waves across the world and Masha’s incredible life story and her photos captured the imagination of audiences far beyond photography circles.