30,000 Hidden Photos Found In The Attic Reveal An Incredibly Talented Photographer
Masha Ivashintsova was a Russian artist and later a theater critic that lived from 1942 to 2000 in Russia. She was heavily engaged in the Leningrad poetic and photography underground movement of the 1960−80s. Masha loved photography as it always took a major role in her mysterious and sometimes painful life. Her incredible work managed to capture the essence of Russia’s everyday life at the end of the XXth century.
She always kept her photographs hidden in her attic as she never showed them to anybody, until now. Recently, her daughter Asya Ivashintsova-Melkumyan was going through her mother’s attic and she found a stunning collection of more than 30,000 images. After deciding to develop these photos, Asya was stunned by incredible photo series that portray her mother’s life story.
As her daughter says, Masha was in love with three men throughout her lifetime, Photographer Boris Smelov, Poet Viktor Krivulin, and Linguist Melvar Melkumyan, who is Asya’s father. Asya decided to comment her mother’s work with entries for her diary that she found, which reveals emotional stories of how she met those men and what they meant to her.
The darker period in Masha’s life is when she was sent to USSR’s mental hospital where she was gradually broken by forcing her to take drugs prescribed to mental health patients. The Soviet Regime was aiming to standardize people and force them to live by the communist rules. This controlling and dehumanizing system had a huge impact on Masha, this also reflects in her work. As her daughter says herself, ‘Masha had a difficult relationship with communism. She was eventually bulldozed by the party and committed to a mental hospital against her will for her «social sponging» as she could never assimilate to the all-encompassing, shouting world of socialist excitement.’
Masha passed away in 2000 in her daughter’s hands at the age of 58 after a battle with cancer. Asya decided to create a website in honor of her mother and her incredible work that not only captures the everyday life of Russia but also portrays an incredible story of a unique woman searching for her place in the world.
Some people call Masha ‘Russian Vivian Maier’ since her work is similar to an American street photographer Vivian Maier whose work was discovered after her death and purchased at an auction. You can read more about this photographer and see her incredible street photography in our post about her here.