Tobias Zielony, born in Wuppertal in 1973, can be considered one of the most exceptional photographers of the present. For a number of years now, he has drawn the increasing attention of the international art scene. In his work Zielony strikes a balance between classical documentary and conceptual approaches. The motifs of his works are teenagers on the margins of society and the environments in which they live. The photographs are distinguished above all by their extraordinary closeness to the teenage subjects.
In a solo exhibition Tobias Zielony show his new cycle “Manitoba” in its entirety for the first time.
“Manitoba” is a series of works capturing the lives of teenage gang members of First Nations origin in their urban surroundings in Winnipeg, the provincial capital of the Canadian territory of Manitoba. In the tradition of the classical photojournalistic feature, Zielony makes use here of various pictorial genres, presenting individual portraits and group photos in which the gang members pose, as well as views of the architecture and landscape in Winnipeg and on a reserve. Apart from his subjects’ globalized dress codes and gestures, what interests the artist most are the specific regional histories of the First Nations in their socio-economic context.
Likewise to be shown at the MMK Zollamt, the film The Deboard (2008) is dedicated to the story of a gang member’s withdrawal from his gang. The term ‘deboard’ refers to the exit ritual a person must subject himself to before he can begin a new life as a free man. In his film, Zielony impressively combines coarse-grained black-and-white scenes of the ex-convict’s environment with the subject’s own account of his withdrawal from the gang.