09.07 – 25.08.2021
Ivan Tuzov's canvases, deliberately messy and teeming with marginalia akin to medieval books, represent images of the New Middle Ages, which frustrate the sense of security and build up mythology based on multicultural historical narratives, and acute problems of the post-pandemic era.

In Hide-and-Seek, the arrival of the dark ages is triggered both by natural threats that we are unable to prevent and by the restrictions imposed by society and power structures. Data monitoring, tracking, surveillance and data collection technologies gained prominence amid lockdown and brought to the surface the algorithms for processing data about citizens' movements. Tuzov works in the paradigm of the alarming poetics of mutations: of the virus, of legislation, of human behaviour under these new conditions.
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The artist's reflections on the concepts of boundaries and security became the starting point for the series. Tuzov examines the context where the already sealed boundary of the screen enhances the user's desire to hide behind a digital mask, to dissolve in the multiplying tabs. By seemingly opening a window into our private space through the webcam, we disguise ourselves and use a digital backdrop.

Abstract residents are hidden inside not-quite-anthropomorphic helmets so well that the helmets appear empty. A ceremonial portrait, a group composition, a snippet of a landscape — all these seem to belong in a medieval manuscript. The bat wings of zero error, side effects, or threats from agents of justice obscure the sky. The sloppy marginalia tags resemble a virus, spyware, changing the dynamics of online trust. Tuzov sees tags as small mutations that virtually provide the viewer with the necessary distance to perceive the images.

The four eyes of Ouroboros, symbolizing the digital camera of the next iPhone model, fully reflect our aspirations to increase our social status, our desire for technological renewal, at the cost of the privilege of staying invisible.

Reality automatically forces us to play hide-and-seek — to shy away from acting directly, to hide things. Hide-and-Seek circles back to its etymology as a secluded place where one can keep a private self and from which one can emerge at any point, hoping to not be caught by the digital security guards.

Tuzov's narratives throw the viewer into Ernst Jünger's The Forest Passage, a manifesto to save freedom from political pressures. Jünger explores the very possibility of resistance: how a thinking individual can resist the power of the omnipresent state. No matter how extensive surveillance technology becomes, the forest can shelter the rebels.

Sasha Puchkova
Ivan Tuzov
Ivan Tuzov (b. 1984) lives and works between St Petersburg and Montenegro. Tuzov is a member of the PARAZIT art group (founded in 2004 in St Petersburg).