Steppenläufer (Tumbleweed). 2018
Installation: archive photo, textile, latex, ventilators. Places exhibition in Jewish Museum, Moscow. Human condition project, session 4. Curator Viktor Misiano

The tumbleweed is a bushy steppe plant that grows into a spherical form which,once uprooted, can be carried over long distances by the wind.

My stepfather Alexander Davidovich Hilgenberg was a Russian German. His life, like that of many of his countrymen, was difficult. He was born in 1912 in the Volga region, in the village of Phillipsfeld, but in 1941 his entire family – his father David Davidovich, brother David and sisters Irma, Erica and Olga – were deported to Kazakhstan and Siberia. From there, Alexander Davidovich was conscripted into the Labour Army, and sent to the Ivdel work camp in the Northern Urals, where he married a German woman named Emma Mayerle, who was also serving in the Labour Army. They were later moved to the Vizhai special settlement, where they had two daughters – Lilya and Vera. In 1968, Alexander Davidovich went to live in the village of Nizhniye Sergi, in Sverdlovsk Oblast. He was director of the local forestry enterprise until his retirement. After the death of his wife, his adult daughters left for other cities and he was left alone, and so my mother, having by that time lost my father, became his support. They changed their flats for a single “two-roomer” and moved in together, my mother looking after him when he suffered a stroke. He died at home, in the Urals, and is buried beside my parents. His life story is my story too. And I want to talk about him, but not just about him. The lot of the Russian Germans has been unfairly tragic. Invited to Russia in the second half of the 18th century by Catherine the Great, they settled along the Volga, in the Southern Ukraine and Crimea. In September 1941, right at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, all of them without exception were evicted from their native Volga to Siberia and Kazakhstan. About a million people were expelled from their homes. Of these, around 300 thousand were then drafted into the Labour Army and sent to the most remote areas of the USSR, where they worked and lived in special settlements and camps. Only in 1955 were they allowed to return to the original places of deportation – to Kazakhstan and Siberia, though the Germans were forbidden from returning to the Volga region where they had lived up until 1941. The Russian Germans never resettled in their homeland – in the 1990s the new Russian leadership did everything to prevent the restoration of the Volga German Republic. Many Germans then left Russia, emigrating to Germany. Russian Germans are a wandering people, they put down roots in Russia and it became their real motherland, but the Soviet government cruelly tore up a whole people from their native land. The Russian Germans have been driven around the world, just like the wind chases the dried out balls of the tumbleweeds that my stepfather saw so much of in the steppelands, where he was taken and left to survive in as best he could, back in the autumn of 1941.

Leonid Tishkov

The author would like to thank the wolgadeutsche.net  website and express his personal gratitude to Alexander Spaсk for providing copies of photographs from the family albums of the Volga Germans.


The star in bed

A star settles on the edge of my bed
it's old and full of cracks, 2003. Light, fish net, metal, neon.


Moon goal

Moon Goal installtion in Taiwan, Taipei City Hall Public Square, 29 May 2018. Heineken Night Event.


Sliced Moon

Sliced moon by Leonid Tishkov at shelves of ex-library of University Sassari. Exhibition No Man's Library / La Biblioteca di Tutti
curated by Zerynthia
The exhibition is part of the triennal project Sentieri Contemporanei promoted by Fondazione di Sardegna with Zerynthia Contemporary Art Fondazione No Man’s Land.
From 10th May 2018
Ex Biblioteca Universitaria, Piazza Università 21, Sassari, Italy
Mario Airò / Maria Thereza Alves / Marco Bagnoli / Massimo Bartolini /Gianfranco Baruchello / Elisabetta Benassi / Rossella Biscotti / Katinka Bock Paolo Canevari / Jimmie Durham / Bruna Esposito / Jan Fabre / Matteo Fato Marco Fedele di Catrano / Federico Fusj / Rainer Ganahl / Alberto Garutti gerlach en koop / Laura Grisi / H.H. Lim / Fabrice Hyber / IRWIN / Franz Kapfer / Gülsün Karamustafa / Koo Jeong A / Donatella Landi / Felice Levini / Sergio Lombardo / Mark Manders / Kris Martin / Liliana Moro / Hidetoshi Nagasawa / Matteo Nasini / Olaf Nicolai / Maria Nordman / Luigi Ontani / Luca Maria Patella Luana Perilli / Cesare Pietroiusti / Alfredo Pirri / Michelangelo Pistoletto / Annie Ratti / Gert Robijns / Remo Salvadori / Maurizio Savini / ManfreDu Schu / Roman Signer / Ettore Spalletti / Michele Spanghero / Donatella Spaziani / Leonid Tishkov / Luca Vitone / Erwin Wurm / Zafos Xagoraris



Good bye friend of mine

Good bye friend of mine, 2017. Neon, LED, suitcase. Installation in the "The train is arriving" exhibition in Ekaterina foundation from 22 March 2018



Leonid Tishkov (Russia)
Uman, 2016
Installation, mixed media

The concept ofdisplacement”, introduced into psychoanalysis by Freud, is a tendency of the human mind to forget traumatic experiences which, however, is not entirely possible to achieve. Displacement tends to return in a changed form such as recurring nightmares and horrors. Therefore, in order to outlive the grief a person has to make a certain effort and its first phase is “processing” which implies acceptance of your memory and recognition of the fact that a certain traumatic event has really taken place. Lately the theory of psychoanalysis has been enriched with a new discovery. As it turns out, the traumas, especially the ones that have not been overcome, can be inherited by your descendants who may start experiencing them as their own. Marianne Hirsch calls this phenomenon post-memory. Many of Leonid Tishkov’s works, in which he addresses his family history and his parents’ tragic biography, corroborate this idea. In the early days of the war, in August 1941, the artist’s father Alexander Ivanovich Tishkov found himself in the Uman encirclement, where the Sixth, the Twelfth, and the Twenty-sixth armies of the South and the South-West Fronts were surrounded by the Germans. As a prisoner-of-war he spent a long time in the camp at Uman and later was moved to Stalag 326 in the district of Stukenbrock where he was liberated by the American army. In December 1945, he returned to his home in the Urals having spent time in the NKVD camp Borisenko at Frankfurt-on-Oder where he had undergone “filtration”. He never talked about his war experiences, probably because he had signed a secrecy paper, or maybe because he had simply “displaced” those events from his memory. His son became obsessed with the task of reconstructing those events through “processing”. Leonid Tishkov managed to find in the internet the report of his father’s interrogation by the NKVD. The report shed much light on the circumstances of his imprisonment. Leonid also collected scanty but scaring evidence left by the survivors of the Uman encirclement. Finally he came across a German photograph with the following inscription: “Negative № 1.13/22. Uman. Ukraine. Russia. Date: 14 August 1941. 50,000 Russian military have been collected in Uman.” Tishkov studied the picture closely trying to find his father among the prisoners, but he failed and printed out an enlarged photograph on paper. His archive also contains a photograph of his father in military uniform made shortly before the war, and a black button from that uniform which he discovered in his mother’s lifetime collection of buttons. That button became a fetish for Tishkov and finally he made a bronze monument out of it. Having identified himself with his father he saw in his life the fate of millions of similar lives reflecting the fate of his generation. His father’s generation had been immortalized in Mikhail Sholokhov’s The Fate of Man, one of the best works of war prose. That was how it occurred to Tishkov that the name “Uman” suggests associations with the word “human” and all that is associated with humans and humanity in most European languages. 

Viktor Misiano

From brochure TIME AND SENSES. Trauma, memory, oblivion, knowledge. Project THE HUMAN CONDITION  SESSION III
Exhibition “The Haunted House” December, 1, 2017 – January, 28, 201 in


Forms of Future

Forms of Future exhibition in Krokin gallery from 16th November 2017.
Dedicated to Russian cosmist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.

Tyumen suffering

Leonid Tishkov UNMARKED, 2017
Installation: Tyumen carpet, found clothes, wood. 

The artist learned about the tragic fate of his grandfather, Tishkov Ivan Grigorievich, only a few years ago. He did not have a single photo of his grandfather, not a single document. There was only a little information avaliable from the Memory Book of the Tyumen region that Ivan Grigorievich was from the village of Korkino in the Sverdlovsk region, was exiled to the Yagodny village of the Kondinsky district, and then was arrested and shot in Tyumen on December 10, 1937. 80 years have passed since his grandfather’s death, but Leonid continues to look for the place of his last refuge; the artist’s soul is restless until he finds the unmarked grave. "The local carpet is black like Tyumen land itself, on which flowers unplanted by me grow; this is the image of my memory of my grandfather and that I must find his grave while I have time," says the artist.

 Leonid Tishkov The KNITLING (VYAZANIK), 2002, installation as part of the "Work never stops" exhibition. Tyumen carpet and textiles contemporary artists. Until 21 January 2018 in Tyumen Arts Center. 4th Urals Industrial Biennale of Arts

Private Moon in Paliano

Private Moon in Paliano, 16-18 November 2017


The Threadbare Flags of My Radiant Motherland

The Threadbare Flags of My Radiant Motherland

I'm interested in fabric, but not the fabric that is sold in cuts in stores. I’m not into new fabrics, in those fresh clean threads, direct from the machine and soaked in fresh paint. I'm interested in fabric that has been worn, that lived a long life together with its owner. Clothing means a lot in our frigid region, a place where the snow still covers the ground in May, and where in October it's time to put on quilted jackets. Clothes were repaired yes, and they were also inherited. When a person died, their wardrobe was distributed among relatives. And when things became too ragged to wear, they were cut into pieces, which were used to weave rugs or were taken to an old woman to weave floor runners. From this dilapidated fabric, from these worn out rags, people made round crochets that they put on the courtyard floors of their homes. Newer, brighter crochets were put inside the house, at the front door, on chairs, on the couch, at the foot of an armchair and by the bed, to tread on them with bare feet. The floors’ wooden planks, painted with the brown oil paint, were cool to the touch, and made you shiver with the cold in winter. Without these rugs, you could completely freeze your feet, that’s how cold it was in our houses.
My mother used to wake me up on cold dark mornings. I always tried to get dressed right under the blanket, and only after managing that did I get up and have a wash.  The rugs, like colorful warm islands under my feet, kept me warm. Those round rugs seemed to preserve the memory of those many people who used to wear the clothing from which they had been made, clothes that had been torn to ribbons, deemed useless, worn out, or irrelevant after the demise of their owners. Such a rug preserves the memory of the departed and exudes the light of their memory, almost as if it were a digital disc.
These memory laden carpets now lie at the entrance to rooms, greeting those who arrive. They welcome visitors like a round, bright, warm sun. The round rug recalls the main symbol of the Slavs, the solar disk, making such rugs solar symbols. The visitors enter the gornitsa, an elevated room, which was the brightest one in traditional houses, and was said to be where the sun lived, with its windows pierced by the rays of the bright noon sunshine. That is why it is called svetyolka or svetlitsa(the room of light). This room was usually located on the upper floor of the house, where young girls were spinning and knitting, embroidering and cutting clothes, painting, singing songs, and gossiping. The windows, on all four walls, have carved wooden frames; the light is the master here. We leave, but the light remains.

Flag of my Motherland. 2017
Metal, wood, old carpet from family of the artist.
XII Krasnoyarsk Biennale "Word and Village". 

Lightroom. 2017
Wood, glass, neon, LED, windows from late house. 
XII Krasnoyarsk Biennale "Word and Village". 
Photo by V. Dmitrienko