Tobias Zielony: The Citizen
The migration of people and the presence of the other
Tobias Zielony’s work does not foreground the liquid images of the Internet age but rather the printed page of the newspaper. His series The Citizen deals with the movement of people from Africa to Germany. Long before migration became the major issue in European politics in 2015, Zielony was spending time with activist members of the African refugee population in Germany. Using photographic images as well as texts and statements, he recorded their struggle for the right of residence and for acknowledgement of their political rights. Zielony in turn sent an account of the dedicated involvement of these people to writers and journalists from their home countries in Africa, who then devoted articles in African newspapers to the committed efforts being made by their compatriots.
Zielony’s installation thus consists of four parts that together make up a whole: large wall panels presenting pictures of the young Sudanese Ahmed al-Nour; several table display cases in which the stories of other activists are related using small-format photographs; two large glass cases on the wall with the relevant pages from the African newspapers that reported on Zielony’s work; and finally a newspaper that visitors can take home with them containing the testimonies and accounts of refugees and specially edited and published by Zielony himself.
Tobias Zielony, born 1973, lives and works as an artist in Berlin. He studied Documentary Photography at the University of Wales, Newport, and did his postgraduate studies under the supervision of Timm Rautert at the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig. The starting point for his work was the observation of a global youth culture—often in the abandoned spaces of post-industrial structures and shrinking cities. In recent years, his photographs and films have focused on marginalized groups in capitalist societies. They reflect on traditional photographic narrative styles and can be read as an alternative to conventional forms of documentary presentation. Zielony sees the camera as a stage for his protagonists.
His work was recently seen in the following exhibitions: Dream Lovers. The Films 2008–2014, KOW, Berlin / Galleria Lia Rumma, Naples (2015); Vele, Esker Foundation, Calgary (2014); Lichtwark revisited, Hamburger Kunsthalle (2014); Jenny Jenny, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin (2013); Live Cinema / Peripheral Stages (with Mohamed Bourouissa), MAXXI Museo Nazionale delle Arte del XXI Secolo, Rome, and Philadelphia Museum of Art (2012); and Tobias Zielony: Manitoba, MMK Zollamt, Frankfurt am Main (2012).