Raphael Abramovich Mazelev
1911 - 1975
1930 - 1970s
During WWII years, Raphael Mazelev worked as a correspondent of the photo chronicle section in TASS news agency’s Leningrad branch. A great number of his photographs documenting the siege of the city were later reprinted in countless Soviet journals and books devoted to the Second World War. In 1945 Mazelev also travelled to Berlin and was able to photograph the invasion of the Nazi capital by the Russian army. From 1950s onwards, the photographer primarily focused on architectural, urban and touristic photography. He authored a series of photo albums and postcard collections on Leningrad, Saratov, Kiev as well as Yerevan, which were commissioned by different republican publishing houses in the USSR. Mazelev’s widely distributed album ‘Yerevan and its Environs’ was the last of the photographer’s publications.
The trilingual album contains full colour-plates of Yerevan’s most noteworthy sights, buildings and views. Many of the locations depicted therein no longer exist or have been unrecognisably changed – a factor that makes Mazelev’s photographs very significant as historical documents. The photographer put his emphasis on views with attractive architecture and colourful features. Local residents are barely noticeable and in certain instances, totally absent. This approach peculiar to Soviet orientalism, creates an image of an oriental city that seems to exist solely as a tourist destination with its strange, hybrid architecture and ancient landscape. Mazelev’s photo album was published in a very large edition and was, for many years, one of the most circulated and consumed visual compendiums on the city.
documentary, photo correspondent
Mazelev, Raphael. Leningrad: Vidy Goroda [Leningrad: Views of the City, in Russian], IZOGIZ, Leningrad, 1963
Mazelev, Raphael. Yerevan and its Environs, Aurora, Leningrad, 1973