Kunsthalle Budapest: Tommaso Tanini, H. said he loved us

28 Oct 2014

We curated our very first photo-literary exhibition, in collaboration with the collective DiscipulaTommaso Tanini‘s H. said he loved us, at Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle Budapest (28.10.14 – 05.01.15), as part of the Month of Photography Festival in Hungary (Fotóhónap2014).

Main entrance of Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle Budapest

Following three years of travels and investigations in Germany, Tommaso Tanini’s H. said he loved us draws on the story of Honecker’s German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the German Ministry for State Security (STASI) to explore the feelings of oppression and dread caused by living in a state of constant suspicion and diffidence. Mingling documentary research and literary references within a fictional narrative framework, his personal photographic study is an allegory of authoritarianism and espionage.

courtesy Kunsthalle Budapest

courtesy Kunsthalle Budapest

Loosely inspired by Italian anti-Fascist writer, Corrado Alvaro’s 1938 novel, Man Is Strong, a ferocious critique of totalitarianism and its abuse of paranoia and instilled fear to control the masses, the images of H. said he Loved us are immersed in a world devoid of names and references. Their timeless and placeless nature, their sinister quietness, reveal, instead, subtle and psychological qualities that invoke contemplation.

courtesy Kunsthalle Budapest

courtesy Kunsthalle Budapest

Anonymous corners and small details of urban landscape become enigmatic monuments that echo the feelings of the people Tanini encountered during his research. From this austere scenario emerge the stories of Baldur H., Ulrike P. and Helmut W., all victims of the STASI, reported by people they trusted and, most likely, loved.

courtesy Mirko Smerdel

courtesy Mirko Smerdel

Presented as a patchwork of collected documents, autobiographical notes, archival images and portraits, they acquire a new fragmented spirit, becoming loose and interactive accounts.

courtesy Mirko Smerdel

courtesy Mirko Smerdel

Far from imposing any unilateral vision, H. said he Loved us is a mosaic of traces and suggestions woven together to warn us about the cyclical and evil nature of any form of totalitarianism.

courtesy Kunsthalle Budapest

courtesy Kunsthalle Budapest

courtesy Kunsthalle Budapest

courtesy Kunsthalle Budapest

We would like to thank all the people who supported us in making the exhibition happen: the artist Tommaso Tanini and Discipula collective artists Marco Paltrinieri and Mirko Smerdel, the wonderful team at Kunsthalle Budapest: chief curator József Készman, assistant curators Tulipán Zsuzsa and the one and only Zsófia Danka; director and curator of the Month of Photography Festival in Hungary Zsolt Olaf Szamódy and Gabriella Uhl.

Enjoy the video interview with artist Tommaso Tanini and curator Federica Chiocchetti.