Tobias Zielony was born in 1973, in Wuppertal. From 1998 to 2001, he studied documentary photography in Newport, Wales; and finished his studies with a work on youths under police curfew in Bristol (Curfew; 2001). In the same year, Zielony transferred to the Hochschule für Graphik und Buchkunst in Leipzig, where he did his book project Behind the Block (Award of the Institut für Buchkunst, Leipzig 2002) that documents the lives of adolescents in four European cities.
Zielony’s focus on places of youth culture, on the peripheries of modern cities like Halle, Marseilles, and Bristol, aims at making removed or hidden places visible, such as the outskirts of cities, suburbs, and no-go areas. In this respect, his engagement with urban non-places or non-places that are near cities, is in the tradition of modern photography in the metropoles of the first half of the 20th century. Yet Zielony’s pictures also follow a different approach, being done as portraits of the youths, of their meeting places, and of their surroundings. As a sequence, his photographs show spectrums of possible views on a different culture within one’s own cultural space. Confrontations with the places shown that are beyond public life, intimate constellations of persons, conversations, gazes or genres presented in differentiated lighting, tie the viewer to the voyeuristic gaze of the camera. Yet they also show posing figures or groups in spatial contexts that appear deeply unfamiliar. The pictures read like documentations and picture stories of a scene that has been grasped almost casually. They thus follow the conventions of photo journalism yet at the same time counteract the agency of the medium employed, or they create a certain opaqueness as to place and time.
Like his contributions to festivals, the exhibitions Zielony has participated in since 1998, are characterized by an interest in pictorial themes of urbanity and public life, of an unfamiliarity or familiarity of urban settings. Among these exhibitions are: »öffentlich – privat« (»public – private«), shown at the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst (Gallery of Contemporary Art) Leipzig (2003), »Stadt/Raum« (»City/Space«) at the Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund (2006), and the project »Roadmap to Europe« at the Kölnische Kunstverein (Art Society Cologne, 2006). Zielony’s works have also been shown at solo exhibitions, for example, at the Kunsthaus Glarus and at the Museum am Ostwall, Dormund.
Tobias Zielony lives and works in Leipzig and Berlin.
New Perspectives in Photography: Ausst-Kat. London 2006
Tobias Zielony: Ausst.-Kat. Marion-Ermer-Preis 2004, Marion-Ermer-Stiftung zur Förderung von Kunst und Kultur in Sachsen und Thüringen, red. v. Kai-Uwe Hemken, Weimar 2004
Tobias Zielony: Behind the Block, Institut für Buchkunst, Leipzig 2004