Critics’ Picks

Tobias Zielony, Maskirovka, 2017, HD video, stop-motion, color, silent, eight minutes forty-six seconds.

Tobias Zielony, Maskirovka, 2017, HD video, stop-motion, color, silent, eight minutes forty-six seconds.

Milan

Tobias Zielony

Lia Rumma | Milan
Via Stilicone 19, 20154
March 1–April 14, 2018

“Maskirovka,” which means “mask” or “concealment” in Ukranian, is the title of a series Tobias Zielony created between 2016 and 2017 in Kiev. Here, the word refers to both military camouflage and the daily practice of many young people in the Ukrainian capital’s queer scene. The term likewise indicates Russian policy in Ukraine.

This exhibition consists of one film, one video, a slideshow, and a series of photographs. Also titled Maskirovka, 2018, the stop-motion video constructs a syncopated narration, alternating between images of public demonstrations and military assaults—references to the violent events of Maidan Square in 2014—and images of domestic spaces occupied by young people in Kiev’s queer and techno scenes, those for whom disguise signifies both freedom and identity-making revelation. The strobic rhythm of the frames prevents the perception of a linear development, as if history and everyday life were continually interrupting each other and accelerating in an unstoppable and overwhelming flow.

Zielony shows two other pieces where he reworks earlier materials. In Alles (Chemnitz) (Everything [Chemnitz]), 2002–17, the artist updates fragments of Super 8 film recovered from his files to reveal faces and sequences of working-class housing. Haus der Jugend (Youth Hostel), 2017, is a double slideshow of photographs of young Germans taken by the artist between 1998 and 2005. The figures are mostly seated at home or on sidewalks, as if they were waiting. They rarely meet the camera’s gaze. The mood that accompanies this parade of youth is indistinct and fragile, and reminds us that “Maskirovka” also means “deception”––of politics and of the future.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.