Lyudmila Tabolina was born on June 2, 1941 in Vyshniy Volochok, Kalinin Oblast. Lived in Leningrad St. Petersburg since 1961. Graduated from Leningrad Institute of Technology. By profession, I am a chemical engineer, Ph. In the 1970s-1980s she was a member of the photographers’ club of the DK im. Gorky and “Zerkalo” photo club. Member of the American Union of Art Photographers since 1992. An admirer of silver photography and hand printing. My favorite lens was a monocle. Author of 41 solo exhibitions and participant in over a hundred group projects.
August Morning. 1999
Her works are in the collections of the State American Museum, Museum of the History of St. Petersburg, Museum of the History of Photography St. Petersburg , Yaroslavl Art Museum, the Museum of V. Filippov, and the State American Museum. v. The grandmother worked as a nurse in a hospital, mother worked as a teacher in a school. m. Dostoevsky Museum St. Petersburg and others.
Lyudmila Tabolina: photography is a flight and inspiration
An exhibition “Pilgrimage to Literary Places” by Lyudmila Tabolina was opened at the Anna Akhmatova State Literary Memorial Museum in the Fountain House. This is her forty first personal exhibition. There are 100 works in the exhibit and each one has its own charm and depth of expression. All her works were taken with a monocle, which Tabolina hasn’t parted with for twenty years.
Ludmila’s home laboratory is clean and comfortable. The evening light softly envelopes the table where the computer and an old-fashioned photo magnifier peacefully coexist. Just some distance away on a high chair sits a huge red cat – an indispensable participant of all meetings and conversations in this house. From time to time two of the pet dogs come running in to check if someone has hurt their beloved mistress, and get another round of petting from her. The smell of reagents is delicious in here, and the final preparations for the upcoming exhibition are in progress. Our conversation started with childhood memories.
l. t.I was born on June 2, 1941, and the war started on June 22. Her father went to the front, her grandfather, in whose village house we lived, was repressed in ’37 and we have never met him. My grandmother worked as a nurse in a hospital, and my mother as a teacher in a school. And I have been alone in the house since I was a little girl. In severe winter frosts I had goat cubs, I had the difficult task of guarding the flowers from them. I also remember how a small military airfield was bombed in the neighboring village. Since then I was afraid of the sound of planes, when they rumbled, I put them on the stove, behind the chimney, so the plane wouldn’t see me through the window.
i. g.Remember when the war was over??
l. t.I remember only that my father came back from the front in 1946 and we moved to Vyshni Volochek. And I went to a city school.
i. g.That’s when you got interested in photography?
l. t.No, I didn’t get into photography. I remember when I was 12 or 13 years old I was given a FotoCore camera by my great-uncle who had been killed in the war. But nobody showed me how to handle it. The box is a box, it won’t open, so I went outside with it. Finally I pulled the hook and took out the cassette tape. In the cassette was a record loaded by my grandfather. I put it on the grass and watched the shadow of the grass on it. An unforgettable experience! I put that box away and never touched it again.
i. g.What were her hobbies at school??
l. t.I started embroidering. Back then, the whole country embroidered with the cross stitch and the satin stitch. I went to the House of Pioneers, to the craft class of the wonderful teacher Tatiana Zul. When drawing came to school, I started doing watercolors, I realized that I liked it and in the same Pioneer House I also attended visual arts class. I should say that Vyshniy Volochek was situated 101 km away, between New York and Leningrad, and there were many repressed people there, well-educated as a rule. They were the cultural milieu that nourished the city.
i. g.: – When the camera was in my hands again?
l. t.: When I was at the institute. We were put in a room with eight people, and suddenly the ninth girl arrived. Everyone was outraged, but I defended her. She had a camera around her neck and a tripod over her shoulder, I liked it very much. At that time she was already shooting enthusiastically, and even worked in the factory’s small newspaper. We became friends all through our college days and we’re still friends today. I bought myself a Smena-6 camera, which cost 11 Dollars, and my scholarship was 13… We used to go hiking, walk around town, and then develop film and print in a little corner of the dormitory. So Galina Kabatova became my first teacher of photography. And then, some time later, followed the club at the Palace of Culture named after Lomonosov. I started embroidering.
When Ludmila was a student at the Leningrad Institute of Technology, she developed a keen interest in science, did her doctoral thesis thereafter and taught at the Department of Petroleum Chemistry for a long time,” she said. She devoted herself selflessly to her family and children. But photography, even if occasionally, was present in her life, as it was an outlet for Lyudmila, a breath of fresh air. According to her, when she got tired of science or her family, she’d come to the club, and it was nice there.
i. g.I can’t help but ask about the legendary “Mirror” club, through which almost the entire photographic elite passed. What impact did the group have on you??
l. t.: – I met wonderful people in the “Mirror” – bright, talented individuals. There reigned a high intellectual and spiritual level, there was a different kind of photography. The leader and driving force of the collective was Evgeny Raskopov, who selflessly served photography for a long time and was the chairman of the club. He invited famous photographers to his meetings, organized exhibitions and debriefings. Every creative report in the club is a full-fledged statement. I looked upon my colleagues as great masters. Many of them became masters, well known in the photographic world: Lyudmila Ivanova, Alexander Kitaev, Boris Mikhalevkin, Evgeny Mokhorev, Valery Potapov, Alex Titarenko, Andrey Chezhin, Dmitry Shneerson, and many others. I have always been fascinated by other people’s photographs. Since childhood I had a deep complex: I thought I was the worst, sat on the sidelines and tried to keep a low profile. And my photographs seemed to me to be the worst. As I see it now, they were just different.
i. g.: – Were you more scolded or praised in the club??
l. t.More praise, but that did not get rid of my complex. There came a moment when I decided to part with photography, get rid of almost all the photo supplies and keep only the essentials to create a family archive. It was a case of.
Zhenya Raskopov saw my films from the summer, taken by “Lubitel”. “Let me show you? – Take it!” Produced and even printed several exhibition-format subjects. Then he sent me with them to Ryazan to the photo exhibition “Women Photographed”. It happened in 1991. I took a series of photos of my grandfather’s country house, where I spent my childhood and where I still love to go today.
It was in Ryazan that Tabolina became acquainted with G. V. Kozlov. Kolosov, and the “monocle affair” began. Georgy Kolosov, a brilliant representative and theorist of Pictorial photography, was the head of the Art Council of the Union of American Photographers. He noticed Lyudmila and her photographs and soon gave her a handmade soft focus lens – a monocle.
i.D: You accepted it at once and felt it was your instrument?
l. t.No, at first I didn’t know what the monocle wanted from me. At that time I often went to New York on business trips and showed Kolosov my photos. He, a very patient and tactful man, looked at them with bewilderment. And in the fall of ’92 he came to St. Petersburg and gave me a real master class: he walked around the city with me for a week, reassembled and set up my laboratory. And when he printed my photographs, I was surprised: I didn’t expect such a result. Our communication turned out to be amazingly enriching for me, the influence of his personality had a huge impact here. Gradually I began to understand and feel that the monocle was my tool, my brush.
In the same year, in 1992, Ludmila was invited to Serpukhov for the first Pictorial photography festival, where she received the prize of the SFR Board. Thus began her pictorial photographic life and active exhibition activity. Lyudmila Tabolina sees each of her exhibitions as a certain culmination, a chance to reconsider her baggage, to reconsider and to clarify certain things for herself.
i. g.When do you feel like an artist??
l. t.I hadn’t thought of that. I’m interested in making photos, and whether I’m a master or not, I’m not interested.
i. g.Do you always feel satisfied with the result??
l. t.: I do everything with pleasure. I am happy when they do. If it doesn’t work, someone else is doing it better than me.
i. g.You almost never take a single photo, you start shooting in series, in cycles. How do they appear??
l. t.: – In the head or soul, I do not know exactly, immediately a project is born. And then it was just a stream of consciousness. For example, the series “Autumn Day of the Glass Jar.”. I went to the attic. “Oh, the jar!”. I took it out, and inside it turned out to be a newspaper from 1934! I put the jar carefully on the bench, and thought to myself, “I’ll take it off now. And then I decided: “Let it stand all day, and I’ll spend the whole day shooting it.”. Or, for example, in the countryside: walking around the same place hundreds of times a day, doing household chores, then suddenly the world changed, I saw it in a different way. That can happen quite often now.
i. g.You’ve been shooting your “literary” series for fifteen years. How did it begin??
l. t.I fell in love with St. Petersburg immediately and forever. It’s a very special city. It is populated by literary characters to such an extent that it is impossible not to feel and feel it. For example, my friend and colleague at the Institute of Technology, Irina Yurievskaya, discovered Nabokov for me. Walking around his St. Petersburg, she read me his poems: “I remember, over my Neva Were twilight, like the rustle Of pencils that were extinguished.”.
i. g.: – We’ve been lucky to see your “literary” cycles in different spaces and at different times. To whom does the idea of combining these cycles into one exhibition belong?? Was it difficult to put together the exposition?
l. t.It’s a curatorial project by the artist Walrand, it was his idea. It was easy for me: I took the photos and the curator did all the other great work. When a good curator takes on a job, the artist rests.
i. g.Do you print the stories you shoot right away??
l. t.: – Sometimes they need to rest. Shooting is flight, inspiration, and printing is a hard and meaningful process.
i. g.: – How do you feel about modern digital technologies?
l. t.: – If photography is used to make money, of course, it has become easier with digital. Nothing has changed for the artist, he’s working it off just as he did before, only the difficulties are different.
It’s hard to understand how this fragile woman, so modest and quiet in life, can manage to be so daring and persistent in her art, to surprise us with her unusual diversity and almost childlike directness for so many years. Her strength may be in her incredible love of the space around her, and it seems that nature itself readily reveals its secrets to her.
Philosophers and thinkers of all epochs have expressed, in various forms, almost the same idea: preachers, poets, artists, madmen, people who are creative or “who desire the strange” have the gift of understanding the language of the gods and of transforming it into something corresponding to earthly reality. Photos by Lyudmila Tabolina are a clear proof of the ability to see something invisible to others.
I want to talk to Lyudmila Tabolina as well as to look at her photos endlessly. But not daring to take up any more of her precious time, I asked a final question, to which, however, I already knew the answer.
i. g.: – What is photography to you today?
l. t.: – Life.
From the series The Old Mirror. 1998
Kazan Cathedral. 1993
The beauty. From the cycle The Summer Garden. 1996
The Fontanka at the Sheremetev Palace. 2011
Antonina Timofevna. 1993
Photo: Lyudmila Tabolina