1920 - 1930s
Boris Sover's ethnicity and the circumstances of his activities in Armenia are unknown to us.(1) The collection of over a hundred photographs kept in the History Museum of Armenia is the only documentary and visual trace that today attests to the practice of this photographer.
In 1934 during a tour around Lori region in the north of Armenia, Sover made images of historical monuments, landscapes, rural settlements and their residents. These small (8x11cm) monochrome images were taken with an amateur camera and have been printed almost mechanically without much consideration for artistry. Due to this unpretentiousness, Sover’s minute photographic scenes transmit a remarkably convincing sense of reality. The photographer seems to have been quite inconspicuous while photographing the locals who are shown doing their everyday affairs without making much of the camera’s presence. Culture had not evolved significantly from its late medieval forms in the villages of Lori, and Sover's observational and detailed perspective persuasively reiterates this impression. His material is ethnographic in its content, but is also marked by elements of topographic and survey photography. As the tractor pictured in one of the photographs suggests, Sover’s series recorded an already historical image of a community standing on the brink of radical modernisation. It is worth noting that these photographs were made immediately after Stalin’s infamous decrees and the onset of the five-year plan that would completely transform the traditional forms of everyday life in rural Armenia.
1) We assume that Sover was of Russian or Ukranian extraction.
USSR, Armenia, ArmSSR
History Museum of Armenia, Yerevan