Book review by Jörg M. Colberg

Instant Tomorrow exhibition at B-05 space, Montabaur, Germany

The Russia on display in Dmitry Lookianov‘s Instant Tomorrow is unlike the one usually presented in photobook form. Here, there are no young people partying heavily. Neither are there people living in quaint, isolated Russian villages. Instead, the viewer is presented with a series of people whose blandness perfectly matches that of the towering apartment blocks they are living in. These people are depicted as being so devoid of any personality that it’s almost amazing.

As if to counter that, or to possibly bring some form of excitement into their lives, many of them are seen engaging with some form of gadgetry, large parts of which appear to be designed to enhance one’s physical appearance (in what ways or, crucially, why is completely left to the imagination). Even a young woman holding on to a vacuum cleaner and a cat toy looks like she is engaging with the most alien of all contraptions. And it is not because the photographer is awkward or inept. Instead, it’s the game he’s presenting.

So if this is the new Russia (or one of them anyway), it’s inhabited by drones, by people who might look a little different, but who, in the end, are really all just alike, aspiring to what really just seem to be the weirdest and possibly most useless goals.

Aren’t we all?

While some of the portraits just look a tad too posed, in this particular context this is actually made to work. Where in almost any other body of work portraits that look too posed suck all the life out of what could be had, here it’s the complete opposite: it almost seems as if even the photographer somehow got affected. So the photographic lifelessness works, given it supports the overall idea. Having looked through the book, you almost want to run out of your house and grab the next available piece of dirt just to feel alive again, to be in — and with — a world that’s not so relentlessly alien.

Jörg MColberg - German writer, educator and photographer