Raising questions concerning the relationship between reality and its image, Russian-born Ivan Pushkin documents how technology has ramified our our perceptual capacities. Working at the crossroad of traditional photography and digital media, he shows how our perceptions of reality are filtered by historical attitudes—habitual assumptions and patterns of behavior that are reflected in a cultural legacy of signs and symbols.
Pushkin traces out the movement of historical experience as it becomes an imaged moment interweaving both personal and political mythologies. His photograph Vodokreschi (Baptism of the Lord) provides a brilliant instance of this, highlighting his strangely ambiguous sense of humor. Picturing a bitingly cold winter playground, what stands out at the photograph’s center is a white stone crucifix, which is situated at the end of a modestly-sized basin. While preserving its religious and ritualistic function, the basin has nonetheless been co-opted for swimming rather than any religious purpose. Essential to this photograph are the two people holding digital cameras that capture this playful appropriation of otherwise sacred water, suggesting a baptism by the light of a digital screen rather than consecrated fire.