Artist: Tobias Zielony
Venue: Lia Rumma, Milan
Exhibition Title: Maskirovka
Date: March 1 – April 15, 2018
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of the artist and Lia Rumma Gallery Milan/Naples
Lia Rumma Gallery is pleased to present the fifth solo exhibition of German artist Tobias Zielony in the Milan Gallery.
The exhibition presents for the frst time in Italy, Maskirovka, the project realized by Zielony between 2016 and 2017, in the city of Kiev, and recently exhibited in the solo show Haus der Jugend at the Kunsthalle von der Heydt in Wuppertal.
“Maskirovka” literally means “masking” and indicates a military doctrine developed in the Soviet Union since the 1920s, based on measures of camouflage, denial and deception to confuse the enemy. Recently, the term “Maskirovka” has been used to indicate Russian policy towards Ukraine, the military operations in Crimea and the hybrid state of war, never officially declared, which followed the protests of the Maidan in 2013 and is still ongoing.
The Maskirovka project, whose central theme is “disguising” in its various forms, includes a photographic series and a video where Zielony investigates the queer and techno underground scene in Kiev, in the context of the current Ukrainian crisis.
In the stop-motion animation, presented on the ground floor of the Gallery, the sight moves continuously between socio-political contexts and scenes of the young people’s private lives. The photographs focus instead on the gestures and poses of the teenagers, portrayed alone or in group, in domestic spaces or marginal environments.
The masking theme establishes a parallel between the political situation and the intimate stories revealed by the photographs. It suggests at the same time the camouflage of the Russian special forces – “the green men” – sent to Crimea in 2014, the use of masks by the protesters of the Maidan to hide their identity and protect their faces from tear gas, but it is also a meaningful moment of the party ritual, in a game of simulations and identity exchange.
In those works Zielony portrays the underground scene of techno and LGBTQI movements of the Ukrainian capital. A scene that has developed on the background of the confused and oppressive political situation of the last few years, and which has somehow gathered many of the energies and dreams of the young generations.
On the second floor two recent works complete the exhibition: Haus der Jugend and Alles (Chemnitz). Haus der Jugend is a new double projection Zielony produced by re-examining various series he undertook between 1998 and 2005 in German places as diverse as Leipzig, Chemnitz, Halle, Berlin, Neustadt/Orla, Frank- furt/Oder, Köln, Kassel, Essen and his hometown Wuppertal. These images lead the viewer back into a pre-digital past full of gestures from a period when the reunification of Germany was still something new. By revisiting his oeuvre this new work formulates a new understanding of Zielony’s own coming of age as an artist, while at the same time it lays bare the economies between a photographer and his archive.
Alles (Chemnitz) was conceived while searching his old storage space in Leipzig. Zielony rediscovered about 100 pieces of Super-8 material that he had cut briefly after shooting the film in Chemnitz in order to scan individual frames. The pieces were randomly glued together and the resulting film digitalized. It turned out that its short sequences run backwards and apparently without intentional order or narrative. Showing young people hanging out in the East German city of Chemnitz, formerly known as Karl-Marx-Stadt, the film cube regarded as a predecessor to his later animations and video work in general.