Boris Mikhailov: Yesterday’s Sandwich (Phaidon, 2008)

This is a book on the famous Russian photographer Boris Mikhailov’s fascinating early body of work entitled the Superimposition series. In this series from the late 60s to early 70s, he has overlayed 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.







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. GUP magazine 031 










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