287 Spring is honored to present the first solo New York exhibition of Misha Friedman’s photographic project PHOTO51 – Is Corruption in Russia’s DNA?, which explores the painful reality of the modern Russian state, where corruption, in its various manifestations, has pervaded the daily lives of common citizens and the ruling elites alike.
In his op-ed written for The New York Times in August 2012, Friedman explains: “Corruption in Russia is so pervasive that the whole society accepts the unacceptable as normal, as the only way of survival, as the way things “just are.” It is not simply about officials abusing power; it’s also about ordinary people comfortably adapting these principles to their daily lives.
Most Russians have grown so accustomed to a certain lawless way of life that they have come to view corruption as “Russia’s own special way.” They are unsure how their country’s economy, government or social sphere might function without it. This photo essay is an attempt to show that corruption is both a state of mind and a way of life.”
Today, when the political tensions are once again rising between the United States and the Russian Federation, Friedman’s arresting photography takes us on a journey from extortionate luxury to utter misery that exist side by side in Russian urban centers, industrial wastelands, and rural regions. With Vladimir Putin securing yet another term for himself as President amidst unprecedented public protests in Russia, Friedman’s photographic project is an exposé of the ominous state of affairs in the world’s largest country, which questions the very possibility of credible change and eradication of the hypothetical “corruption gene” under the current regime.
The exhibition is accompanied by a limited edition of portfolios which will be available for purchase at the gallery.
This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the Institute of Modern Russia and its President, Mr. Pavel Khodorkovsky. All proceeds from the exhibition to benefit the Institute of Modern Russia and its programs.
The Institute of Modern Russia is a nonprofit group based in the United State that aims to support democratic values and institutions in the Russian Federation by engaging with civil society, bolstering the rule of law, and strengthening political freedoms.

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