Sergey Chilikov is a Russian photographer born in Kilemary, Mari Republic, in 1953. He has graduated from the Mari Pedagogical Institute, ultimately obtaining an MA in Philosophy in 1983. He started photographing in 1973, at a time when the Soviet Union frowned on the notion of photography as artwork. In 1976-1991 Chilikov lectured at the Yoshkar-Ola University. In reaction, Chilikov distilled into his photography both his personal obsessions and absurd observations of his country . Chilikov's series of photographs bring us a different vision of Central Russia revealed through his encounters with people. In 1993 he’s published a book on Russian philosophy, “The Owner Of a Thing, Or the Anthology Of Subjectivity”.
The resulting images are staged in the most unlikely ways, and full of a characteristic dry visual humor. Locals pose in their villages simultaneously revealing and accentuating the austere surroundings. Occupiers of socialist flats pose nude amidst the outdated and garishly decorated interiors. These playful scenes often combine recurring erotic motives and dreamlike color. Chilikov's Russia is a land unaltered by the drastic collapse of the Soviet Union and populated by characters that cross the line from the traditional to the sensual.
Chilikov’s photography career has started in 1976 in the Fact group (S. Chilikov, Y. Evlampiev, V. Voetsky, E. Likhosherst, V. Mikhaylov). Soon he has become the leader of non-conformist photography in his region. Together with a group of like-minded individuals, he organized exhibitions and festivals; he managed to co-exist quite peacefully with the official photography organizations of the Soviet time. In 1980-1989, Chilikov organized the Analytical Photo Exhibitions (‘Yoshkar-Ola biennale’), and the annual open-air photo festival on Kundysh River. In 1988 he’s participated in the final exhibition of the Fact group at Na Kashirke exhibition hall (Moscow).
Since 1989 Chilikov has been working on a multitude of projects involving different towns of the former Soviet Union. His series, entitled ‘Photo Provocations’, ‘Countryside Glam’, ‘The Beach’, ‘Gambling’, ‘Philosophy of a Journey’, and others, depict the latent eroticism of people in the countryside, that appears even more vital when it contrasts with the depressing surroundings. Sergey Chilikov’s brilliant and playful photographs, full of typically Russian humor and self-criticism, are a feast for the eye. He is considered to be one of today’s most influential and creative contemporary Russian photographers.