Masha Ivashintsova (1942-2000)
March 12, 2018 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Russian Masha Ivashintsova photographed constantly but never showed her work to anyone. In late 2017, a relative stumbled on boxes of negatives and undeveloped film gathering dust in an attic. Here are some of the 30,000 images from the remarkable discovery. posted by komara (13 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
In which the phrase “show your work” takes on added meaning and urgency. Memo to self: Don’t be such a shy asshole about stuff.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:25 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]

Diaries left by Ivashintsova reveal a woman who saw her own talents as trivial in comparison with the men of her life. Her daughter says she “sincerely believed that she paled next to them and consequently never showed her anyone during her life.”

God damn that's sad. Her lovers were all photographers too, some of them celebrated during their lifetimes. Did none of them encourage her to bring her work out into the light, offer to use their connections to help her find success in her passion? Her photos are extremely strong. Or maybe, more charitably, they tried but failed. It sounds like she was a troubled person, though untangling how much of that inner strife was organic as opposed to a product of the misogynist, authoritarian society she lived in is probably impossible now.

Regardless, her work speaks for itself. Excellent stuff.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:29 PM on March 12 [6 favorites]

I never know what is behind a face -- and neither do you -- there is no way of knowing if the person standing next to me has some huge secret life. I'll look at the person, an unobtrusive glance, I'll maybe see a carpenter -- work boots, sawdust on his arms, a care-worn face that's seen poverty -- or maybe I'll see again that one woman with those two toddlers in a carriage on the hike and bike trail, the joy in her eyes as she looks at those children, and laughs with them, and wipes off the chocolate from that ice cream cone she bought them -- I'll think how lucky she is to have that love to give, and to receive. What a life!

Either or both of these individuals might have stacks of canvas in that one small room behind the staircase there, both oil and acrylic, and an entire row of 24" x 36" sketchpads containing sketches as detailed as any painting by Tintoretto, lined up by date, or maybe lined up by the subject(s) drawn, perhaps they've each got an emotional signature that's inside them and it just makes sense to the artist to order them in that fashion. Or perhaps they have four novels, 87 short stories, five collections of poetry, and todays shopping list on a hard drive on that trashy-looking puter I see poking out of ratty-looking knapsack, which is of a fine leather that's been neglected considerably.

Either or both of these human beings may have complete life work tucked into that leather pack I casually dismiss. Maybe that carpenter -- if in fact that's what he does for his living -- maybe that carpenter is care-worn because both his wife and their daughter have chronic, progressive illnesses, perhaps he sings to them both as he cares for them, he's taking care of them with a love I could never -- never -- understand, and still he has time to put paint on all that canvas. Because he has to. To shut off the flow of the colors shuts off his singing. And he needs them both.

There's just no way to know.

I just love this part.
posted by dancestoblue at 1:33 PM on March 12 [3 favorites]

Fun synchronicity between this and the previous post!
posted by ITheCosmos at 1:58 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]

Absolutely wonderful. Great find.
posted by unliteral at 3:13 PM on March 12

Dead at 58. Is that noticeably short by Soviet standards?
posted by Beholder at 3:45 PM on March 12

Fascinating and deadly sad.
posted by tilde at 4:27 PM on March 12

Dead at 58. Is that noticeably short by Soviet standards?

She died of cancer, long after the end of the USSR. Life expectancy a birth for women in 1990 was 74, about the same as the US.
posted by klanawa at 4:29 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]

Of course the collie is barking
posted by bendybendy at 4:50 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]

She died of cancer, long after the end of the USSR. Life expectancy a birth for women in 1990 was 74, about the same as the US.

Incidentally life expectancy in Russia sort of famously dropped precipitously right after that - more so for men than for women, though (not entirely sure what the point of the question was, either).
posted by atoxyl at 4:51 PM on March 12

These are fantastic & inspiring. I need to remember to check back for more as these get scanned & preserved.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:22 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]

Amazing photos and a deeply sad story. Thanks for the post.
posted by languagehat at 6:32 AM on March 13

Memo to self: Don’t be such a shy asshole about stuff.

Please don’t be shy about stuff. The beauty of the internet is that we can share without gatekeepers judging what is worthy and what is not. We can just say “I made a thing, here it is” and let people enjoy it or not as they like.
posted by harriet vane at 8:09 AM on March 14

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