Home (Untold Stories)

Anders Härm, Rebeka Põldsam and Airi Triisberg
Untold Stories, catalogue, Tallinn Kunstihoone, 2011. [Home (Untold Stories)]
In the summer of 2009, the Moscow police dispersed a demonstration by LGBT rights activists, which had taken place despite being banned by the city authorities. Forty people were arrested and the police treated the the demonstrators ”harshly” as Police Chief Vyacheslav Kozlov had threatened in advance.

Conny Karlsson’s video Home (Untold Stories) is a reaction to the violent events in Moscow, contemplating on the relationship between oppression and resistance more generally. The centre of the video is comprised of empty placards leaning against a wall, onto which images are projected from a famous photo taken by press photographer Alexander Zemlianichenko, documenting the police repressions that accompanied the 2009 Gay Pride demonstrations. Fragments of Zemlianichenko’s photo alternate with text excerpts from Anna von Hausswolff’s song Home, which also forms the audio for the video, although the work was initially concieved as a live multimedia performance.

The image of empty placards from which the particular demands from of the LGBT movement have been erased functions as a metaphor for political resistance. In fact, in the current atmosphere of restricted democratic rights, the protest culture in Russia has recently taken more abstract forms. For example, “monstrations” have gained popularity, which resemble classical street street demonstrations in their form, but the content drives on absurd slogans. In a situation where the the right to express political demands is restricted and repressed, nothing is demanded within the framework of ”monstrations” while at the same time, everything is demanded.

The silent placards placed in the centre of Conny Karlsson’s video can also be interpreted in the context of civil liberties, demanding the right to manifest the collective and individual presence of queer subjects in public space. On the other hand, the words “leave”, “stay” and “home” that are projected onto the placards also refer to the relationship between homophobia and emigration. “Get lost, you damn …” is one of the most prevalent phrases that are used to transmit homophobic, racist and nationalist insults. It is easy to take these suggestions literally and to escape to a safer environment—be it to the private sphere between the walls of one’s home or the relatively more tolerant world of Western society. Therefore, resistance can take many different forms, which are not limited to organizing political demonstrations. It can also just mean being different in a society that does not tolerate differences.

 ©MMXIV Conny Karlsson Lundgren