H. said he loved us – Tommaso Tanini

Instituto de Italiano di Cultura Belgrado

4th – 25th of April 2017.

Exhibition curated by Natasha Christia

TommasoTanini’s H. said he loved us draws on the story of the 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. Following three years of travels and investigations in Germany, the project mingles archival and documentary research with a personal and subjective photographic investigation stepped on literary references and fictional narratives. An elegantly oppressive allegory of authoritarianism and domination, H. said he loved us was originally inspired by Corrado Alvaro’s dystopic novel “L’Uomo è Forte”. Published back in 1938, the book was a ferocious critique towards totalitarianism and its abuses 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. Portraits of five Stasi victims (all betrayed by people they trusted and loved, family members and friends), alongside anonymous corners and trivial details of East Germany cityscapes generate an unresolved tension between the act of spying and being spied upon. These pictures, partly cinematic and partly forensic, resonate with the sense of unease that pervades Alvaro’s book. They become a sinister background of the documentary material recollected by Tanini and enigmatic
monuments echoing the feelings of the people he encountered during his research. Emerging from this austere landscape as a loose, anonymous patchwork of documents, autobiographical notes, found images and portraits, the stories of the STASI victims are reactivated as fragmented albeit vivid and interactive accounts.Structured as a rich mosaic of traces and suggestions, H. said he loved us subtly warns us about the cyclical and evil nature of any form of totalitarianism, without imposing any unilateral vision or clichés. At the same time, it brings onto the surface the ghosts of a dreadful historical reality that has ruled GDR and not only – a reality that has been deliberately excluded from the founding myths of the post Cold-War Era European unity.