Independent photography - that is, photography that did not conform to official norms and, therefore, could not be exhibited or published in the mass media - appeared in the USSR in the 1950s. In this period, official photography was totally controlled by state ideologists. It was prohibited to shoot religious ceremonies or make allusions to any religious topics (this was qualified as 'religious propaganda'). Nude photography became synonymous with pornography and was not allowed. Critically charged social photographs were immediately considered as 'ideological sabotage' and were banned. Ideological censorship also brushed aside symbolism, aesthetism and any formal experiments in photography.
In the 1950s-1980s photographers and artists likewise could either opt for conformism and produce the works meeting all ideological requirements or maintain their right to individual creative freedom. In this case, they could show their shots to close friends but there remained no possibility for them to present their works to the wide public.
Like underground painting, music and literature, independent photography broadened the territory of art since photographers shot what they found necessary to shoot and not what was required by official standards. At the same time, they experimented with new forms and new expressive means. Though each representative of underground photography only wanted to form his/her own style and had no intention to struggle with the existing social order, their activities finally proved to have staggered and destroyed the monopoly and uniformity of totalitarian art and life. None of these artists advanced political claims and demanded freedom of speech and freedom of art but all of them acted as if they already had those freedoms.
The album contains photographs that were taken in 1960-1980s by fourteen underground photographers from Leningrad, namely Grand-Boris Kudryakov (1946-2005), Gennady Prikhodko (b. 1938), Leonid Bogdanov (1949-2003), Petit-Boris Smelov (1951-1998), Olga Korsunova (b. 1951), Vladimir Okulov (b. 1938), Slava Mikhailov (1940-2002), Valentin Thyl Maria Samarine (b. 1928), Nikolai Matrenin (b. 1950), Sergei Falin (b. 1955), Anatoly Shishkov (b. 1951), Sergei Podgorkov (b. 1953), Lev Zvyagin (1939-2000), Eugeny Antonenko (b. 1959).