Sergey Bratkov moved to Moscow in 2001. The Army Girls of 2000 is among Bratkov's projects of the period. It was shot in a military school for woman in Kharkov. The artist managed it only by introducing himself as a fashion photographer for heads of military schools. Practically at the same time, he produced the Soldiers series about the war in Chechnya. At the turn of the 1990s and 2000s, this subject divided Russian society not only in terms of people's political preferences, but also in terms of their feelings of fatigue about the war in general, their illusions, their natural pacifism, or their readiness to be swayed by the mass media's massive brainwashing to push acceptance of the war. Among the 'stories' about the war that Bratkov did is the story of soldiers who ordered their portraits done before being sent to fight in Chechnya. Here he incorporates iconography that represents a bizarre mixture of memorial portraiture rooted in the funereal images of Roman colonists and soldiers with fiery backgrounds associated both with fire worshippers and with the famous posters carrying portraits of the World War II heroes and the post-war Soviet cult of the heroes who had been filled in WWII.
Dr. Irena Tchmyreva, Moscow Museum of Modern Art
Excerpt from her essay, Estrangement from Society. Sergey Bratkov's Project, in the FOTOFEST2006 catalogue.
SERGEY BRATKOV Soldiers and Army Girls
Bratkov’s work arrives out of a consciousness of his own time gauged against the political, social and economic contingencies of the recent past. Bratkov seeks out young subjects who find themselves listless within a space inscribed by the temporal gap between Ukraine’s Soviet period and its subsequent reincarnation as an evolving market economy and political anomaly. In its context the portrait is of special value in its stereotypical form. Whether it shows party secretaries, workers, peasants, space travelers, scholars or soldiers, they are all typified as heroes.
Born in 1960 in Kharkov, Ukraine, Sergey Bratkov now lives in Moscow. In Kharkov he graduated from Repin’s Art College in 1978 and from the Polytechnic Academy in 1983. In 1994 he organized “Fast reaction group” with Boris Michailov and Sergei Salonsky. Bratkov has taken part in important biennials, including Manifesta 5, San Sebastián, Spain; 1st Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art; 50th Venice Biennale; and 25th Bienal de São Paulo. His works have represented post-Soviet art in such exhibitions as Horizons of Reality, Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst (MUHKA; Museum of Contemporary Art), Antwerp, Belgium; Sans Consentement, Centre d’Art Neuchâtelois (CAN), Switzerland; After the Wall, Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and Art of Contemporary Photography: Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Central House of Artists, Moscow. His photography is in the collections of MUHKA, Antwerp, Belgium; Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick, New Jersey; Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.; Museum of Contemporary Art), Ghent, Belgium; Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain; and the Collection of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. Bratkov is represented by Regina Gallery, Moscow.