Papa, Mama, and the Telly
Marat Guelmans' Gallery

The gallery's walls are hung all over with monumental-size color prints of "talking heads" photographed from a TV screen -politicians, cultural figures, TV presenters, and participants of loud scandals. They are all equally recognizable, yet nondescript, blurred in the TV raster, reduced to the status of wall-paper serving as the accustomed background of our daily life going on to the noise of a turned-on TV set. In contrast to those random ornamental shots is the centrally placed, distinctly printed, set up photograph: "Papa" and "Mama" armed with a scythe and a hay-fork parody a scene from the notorious painting "American Gothic". The photo is carefully calculated and directed: the real, non-mass-media people are presented as vividly as the perfect photo-optics permit. The portrait of obviously posing "ordinary people" is contrasted with the snaps of TV characters taken unawares, as it were.
In actual fact, we all know that uneasy feeling caused by TV images giving us a sensation of being constantly watched from the TV screen. To catch a TV character unawares would mean
that he/she is not looking at us at the moment. To become a voyeur just to make sure of one's own invisibility.
But this is a vain hope - we'll never be able to see the back of the presenter's head, to strip him/her of their mesmerizing one-dimension quality. The blur of the raster will never obscure the vigilant stares of the "talking heads". Gutov pulls the viewer into a veritable trap of scrutiny that can't be escaped. The eloquent enraged look of the "parents" brandishing their weapons is multiplied by the all-seeing eyes of the media phantoms.

Irina Kulik
ARTCHRONIKA, 3 / 2001 p. 121