The large-format photo series features people in their late teens, found on Instagram, portrayed in an abandoned tiny apartment in the center of Rīga. In the pictures, these photogenic strangers present themselves as a family of friends sitting, lounging, or lying on a well-worn couch placed against the backdrop of a graphic wallpaper as they focus their gaze at nearby screens, or seemingly nowhere at all.
With no stylistic character directions from Lipkin, the group arrived to the shoot in their normal clothes, casual hairdos, wearing their normal make-up or none at all. They came to perform themselves, knowing full well they were unlikely to be captured as such. Stuck together for hours, the group of live models conveyed boredom, disinterest, and passivity, at times mirroring one another’s affect as if trying to stand out by disappearing – or blending in.
The pictures are displayed in a sequence that evokes both the internal and formal logic of the series. Lipkin’s photographs vary from clean, composed and perfectly crisp to deliberately blurred, foggy and reflecting seemingly accidentally captured moments. The shots presented at the exhibition are unscripted and collaborative at the same time: in one image, light from a model’s phone illuminates the entire frame, while in another, the model’s face absorbs light from the reflection of a computer screen.
The screen-binge eye fatigue is apparent on the subjects’ faces throughout the series, but the viewer is impervious to the content itself.
Thinking of Lipkin’s biography and considering the context of the shoot location, it may be tempting to read this new series from a perspective of a post-colonial Soviet aesthetic. However, this was not the author’s intent. The laconic yet emotionally precise documentary study of self-presentation falls into Lipkin’s ongoing interest in exploring the concept of the ‘real’ and the ‘hyper-real’. In order to reveal a generalized version of the conditions underlying the development of contemporary global culture and society, Lipkin captures the momentum almost casually, as in a ‘state of distraction’. The lone Ukrainian girl posing in the photographer’s Berlin studio gets the memo and tells Lipkin: ‘It really was like that, we were all just glued to our screens.’
Ilya Lipkin (b. 1982, Rīga) is a Berlin-based artist who operates at the intersection of technology, youth, and advertising. The photographer is fueled by the zeitgeist to create direct, bold, and boundary-pushing series straddling art and consumer culture. Lipkin’s practice is intuitive, dynamic, and rooted in the realness of the world around him. He is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program, and his work has been exhibited at High Art, Arles; Svetlana Gallery in NYC; Autocenter Berlin; Hamburger Bahnhof Museum für Gegenwartskunst; Lars Friedrich Gallery, and Silberkuppe in Berlin; as well as at Nousmoules in Vienna, among other venues. Lipkin’s work and writing has appeared in Texte Zur Kunst, Artforum, Periodico Magazine, and others.The artist is represented by Lars Friedrich Gallery.YOU are the model! YOU are the majority! is Lipkin’s second solo exhibition with Kim? following a solo show in 2017.
Curator: Zane Onckule
Casting and photoshoot producer: Evita Goze
Organized by: Great Amber in collaboration with Contemporary Art Centre Kim?
Opening hours: The exhibition will be available until October 23, during the opening hours of the Concert Hall
Mon–Fri 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat–Sun 10 a.m.–3 p.m.