Misha Gordin was born in 1946, the first year after World War II ended. Having survived the hardships of evacuation, Gordin’s parents returned back home to Riga, Latvia, after the war which was then under Soviet occupation. Growing up among the Russian speaking population of Latvia, Russian became Gordin’s root culture. He graduated from the technical college as an aviation engineer but never worked as such. Instead he joined Riga Motion Studios as a designer of equipment for special effects. At this time social realism was an official culture of the country and having little formal knowledge about art, Gordin did not care about it too much. Information about modern western art was scarcely available.
Gordin started to photograph when he was nineteen, driven by his desire to create a personal style and vision. He was involved in portraiture and did some documentary shots, but soon realized the results were unsatisfactory. Putting his camera aside, Gordin concentrated on reading (Dostoevsky, Bulgakov) and cinematography (Tarkovsky, Parajanov). He was constantly looking for the right way to express personal feelings and thoughts using photography.
One year later it came to him clearly and simply. Gordin decided to photograph “concepts” rather than the literal capturing of a moment on film. In 1972, Gordin created his first, and most important image, Confession. Instantly recognizing the potential possibilities of his conceptual approach and the knowledge acquired from creating this image, Confession become the backbone for the work he has since produced.
In 1974, after years of disgust with communist authorities, Gordin left Latvia and immigrated to America.