Another posthumous photographer comes to light. Following the footsteps of Vivian Maier—and the lesser-known Charles Jones—Masha Ivashintsova is a photographer whose work has only received the eyeballs and recognition that it deserves following the artists’ death. Unlike the other two, however, whose works were discovered by antique collectors John Maloof and Sean Sexton, respectively, Ms. Ivashintsova’s work was unearthed by her own child.
Masha grew up in the USSR, ultimately passing away in St. Petersburg in 2000 at the early age of 58. During her lifetime, her daughter writes, she was “heavily engaged in the Leningrad poetic and photography underground movement of the 1960-80s.” While this may have proven a fruitful source of inspiration for her own work, it ultimately stifled her ability to make herself known.
Masha, writes her daughter, was a “lover of three geniuses”: the photographer Boris Smelov, the poet Viktor Krivulin and the linguist Melvar Melkumyan (the last of which is the author’s father). And while her engagement with them sparked her love of life, “consum[ing] her fully,” it also led her to unhealthy self-comparison, imposing standards upon herself which, because of their unreality, she could never surpass. Thus, “she never shared her works with anyone, not even her family.”
Ivashintsova is unique in her awareness of her own self-imposed concealment. In a diary entry recorded by daughter, she writes: “I never had a memory for myself, but always for others.” Those others, we can assume, being the geniuses she surrounded herself with, the group she unnecessarily felt herself excluded herself from.
Melvar Melkumyan, Moscow, USSR, 1979 . . . . . #ivashintsova #leica #documentaryphotography #photography #sovietphotography #photoart #portraitphotography #streetphotography #bnw #bnwphotography #artist #soviet #photographer #magnumphotos #photographyoffice #greatshots #art #artgallery #bnwmood #bw_perfect #bnw_greatshoots #moscow #russia #history
Hence the stunned surprise that greeted her daugher, Asya Ivashintsova-Melkumyan, along with her husband, upon finding Masha’s undeveloped film in the attic of their home while undergoing renovations. After developing a few images, Asya realized, her mother was a “genius,” but, sadly “she never saw herself as one,” and thus “never let anyone else see her for what she really was.”
All images courtesy the team behind Masha’s archive.