From May 9-June 20, 2015, the Work Gallery will hold the exhibit “Photo 51: Is Corruption in Russia’s DNA?” The University of Michigan Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies and Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design are collaborating to present this photography exhibit by Misha Friedman, which attempts to capture the pervasive culture of corruption in Russia. Friedman explains, “What I’ve come to define as corruption goes beyond any one act and points to the acceptance of the whole system of it. Things that are not normal—bribing, beatings, adultery, cronyism, negligence, chauvinism, lying, and the cynicism of elected officials—are borne as normal.” The photos in the exhibit therefore appear to be normal everyday scenes of life in Russia, but Friedman specifically selected them because through the apparent banality he shows a system that is corrupt from top to bottom.

The exhibit will consist of 11 panoramic prints, each approximately 30 inches high by 80 inches wide. Friedman was involved in selecting the specific prints for the exhibit, which will travel to other university galleries following the show at U-M.

Misha Friedman was born in Moldova, which at the time was part of the Soviet Union. He immigrated to the United States in 1991, when he was 14 years old, and currently lives in New York. Friedman has a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s in Russian and Post-Soviet studies.

The project was made possible with a grant from the Institute of Modern Russia. University of Michigan sponsors for the Work Gallery exhibit are the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies; Center for Russian, East European, & Eurasian Studies; and Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design.

DATES: May 9–June 20, 2015
GALLERY HOURS: Tuesday–Saturday, 12–7 pm
LOCATION: Stamps School Work Gallery, 306 S. State Street, Ann Arbor

The Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies (WCED) combines academics with practical applications, promoting scholarship to better understand the conditions and policies that foster the transition from autocratic rule to democratic governance, past and present. It also educates new generations of practitioners who can apply their learning and experience to help extend democratic freedoms. Named in honor of Ronald and Eileen Weiser and inspired by their time in Slovakia during Ambassador Weiser’s service as U.S. ambassador from 2001-04, WCED began operations in September 2008. For more information, visit

Established with the generous support of alumna Penny W. Stamps through the Stamps School of Art & Design, the Speaker Series brings respected emerging and established artists and designers from a broad spectrum of media to conduct public lectures, inspire collective dialogue, and engage with students, faculty, and the larger University and Ann Arbor communities on a weekly basis. For more information, visit



Rachel Brichta
Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies                              


Kate West
Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design