In summer 2021, the Museum Folkwang in Essen will be showing the work of Tobias Zielony in a large survey exhibition, featuring photographs and video works from the last twenty years. One of the key themes in Zielony’s artistic work is youth culture, its relationship to background, status, and fashion, and the definition of identity associated with this in a realm where the realities of the medium are shifting. Digital culture has revolutionized the ways in which photographic images can communicate, fundamentally altering the idea of the self and self-representation. In Zielony’s works, the subjects of his pictures appear as self-aware participants in this process of interaction—engaging in a global exchange of social codes and self-images, irrespective of the cultural and social differences between the people involved. Spector Books has consistently supported Zielony’s work from the start of his career. In 2008 we published Trona, now in its third edition, followed by Manitoba (2011), Jenny Jenny (2013), and Vele (2014). This sustained process of close collaboration has given rise to an unusual idea for the catalogue for the Essen exhibition. It is to be published as a series of six small volumes, each showing two to four works in full and accompanied by a text that creates a counterpoint to these works in the form of an essay or piece of fiction. Six protagonists of the new literary generation—Sophia Eisenhut, Joshua Gross, Dora Koderhold, Enis Maci, Mazlum Nergiz, and Jakob Nolte—have agreed to take part in this project.
Born in 1973 in Wuppertal, Germany, Tobias Zielony studied Documentary Photography in Newport and Leipzig. In 2015 the artist participated at a group show for the German Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale with his work The Citizen (2015). He had group shows for example at Bozar Center for Fine Arts, Brussels (2015) and the 2nd Montevideo Biennial (2014) and solo shows at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2011) and Berlinische Galerie (2013).