Tobias Zielony

Still Images, Loud Voices

“My work is very much a research into troubled histories, and the potential that photographic imagery still holds.”

Tobias Zielony is known for his photographic and filmic depictions of youth- and subcultures, which—albeit embedded in specific communities—employ a critical approach to documentary photography. His photographs create a distance between image production and documentary, resulting in a unique aesthetic and a relation to fictional narratives.

Tobias Zielony: Ink, 2018
Tobias Zielony, Ink, 2018. All images courtesy of the artist.
Tobias Zielony: Away, 2017
Tobias Zielony, Away, 2017.
Tobias Zielony: Maskirovka
Tobias Zielony, Maskirovka, (stop-motion film), 2017

He is interested in exploring how images impact and inform the shaping of the self, as well as the identity of a community. Zielony’s work often portrays its subjects casually, sensitive to the visual language, gestures, and postures that a person chooses to display. In 2009, Zielony introduced stop-motion animation and moving images to his practice. In 2015 he co-exhibited at the German Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale with the work The Citizen, a cooperation with refugee activists in Germany and newspapers and magazines in five African cities.

As a mentor, Zielony is looking for artists who are exploring questions of contemporary image production and are engaging with people and local communities. “My work is very much a research into troubled histories and emancipatory movements, and the potential that photographic imagery still holds,” he says. Artists who are “starting a project on a personal, local, and community basis” are encouraged to apply.

Tobias Zielony: The Citizen, 2015
Tobias Zielony, The Citizen, 2015

Zielony was awarded numerous international residencies, including the International Studio and Curatorial Program New York, USA (2006), and, more recently, the Goethe-Institut Villa Kamogawa Residency, Japan (2018). He has exhibited extensively in institutions across Europe and in the United States with solo shows, among others, at the MMK Zollamt in Frankfurt (2011); Camera Austria in Graz (2011); Philadelphia Museum of Art (2011); MAXXI Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo Rome (2012); the Berlinische Galerie (2013); Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal (2017); and an upcoming exhibition at the Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany (2021). His work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including the second Montevideo Biennial (2014), and the first Riga Biennale (2018). He was the first Peter and Irene Ludwig guest professor at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts. His recent publications include: Alles, (Etudes, 2019); Maskirovka, (Mousse, 2017); Vele, (Spector Books, Leipzig, 2014); and Jenny Jenny, (Spector Books, Leipzig 2013).

Watch the video statement to find out more about what Zielony is looking for in applications:

Photographer and filmmaker Tobias Zielony on his work and role as mentor in Forecast's fifth edition.