The exhibitional project proposed by Tobias Zielony, as a visiting artist who is presenting his artistic practice in the online space of Aparte Gallery, is part of a series of visual researches that the artist has done in recent years on youth communities representing different forms of subcultural expressions in a society increasingly oriented towards a mono-cultural consumption facilitated by the globalization of economic policies.
During a research trip, taken on his own, to Ukraine, Tobias Zielony met a group of young people from Kiev with whom he interacted in creating a series of photographs and an experimental film in which young people’s life expressions communicate in a symbolic way with reflections specific to their political consciousness. Through these young people, Tobias Zielony immerses himself in the world of ‘underground’ secret events in which queer culture hybridizes with the techno scene, and narratives about the aftermath of the 2013 Ukrainian revolution reveal types of ironic appropriation of behaviours of Russian intelligence in their secret actions on the Eastern territory of Ukraine. Hence the title of the photographic series and the film with dynamic photographs, “Maskirovka”, which in a free translation refers to a kind of “little masquerade”, allusively associated with the subversive actions of the so-called “green people” who have acted under hidden identity in support of pro-Russian autonomous forces, including during the occupation of Crimea in 2014.
In the photographs taken by Tobias Zielony, young people are caught interacting, in their intimate space or in clubs, in intimacy or gathered in groups at the entrances to the secret spaces where they meet, and the city is viewed through hierarchical layers of architecture and fog. The portraits of young people capture behaviours, symbols of tattoo culture or meta-identity forms of masking.
Assembling 5,400 photographs taken during his stay in Kiev, Tobias Zielony makes a stroboscopic film, with 5 images unfolded in a second, which build an intersectional narrative on politico-military conflicts, street fights, their way of media coverage through television, put in a comparative perspective with the reactive life of young people. The accelerated mixture of contrived scenes from an over-condensed sequencing of a decompressed historical time between moments of peace and those of social and military conflict seems to make a double allusion, on the one hand to the inflation of overlapping events that erase some on others in a troubled memory, and on the other hand at a moment of loss of consciousness, alluding to a moment of the threat of death, when the memories seem to follow one another in a dizzying rhythm. But in his intention, Tobias Zielony does not accept a pessimistic dramatization of the political and social situation in Ukraine, but rather tries to connect the local stories of young people with a global movement of their unrested response to the hidden games of power.