Magazine article Artforum International

Tobias Zielony: Galleria Lia Rumma

Magazine article Artforum International

Tobias Zielony: Galleria Lia Rumma

Article excerpt

Tobias Zielony's investigation of reality encourages multiple interpretations. The Berlin-based artist's presentation of eight videos in "Dream Lovers. The Films 2008-2014" allowed those who are familiar with his photographic work to appreciate the thematic contiguity of his research across media, as well as its consistent marriage of the documentary with the abstract. Zielony's "Dream Lovers" (the title was appropriated from the 1959 song by Bobby Darin) are antiheroes, typically adolescents, who inhabit the artist's personal pantheon. These precarious protagonists are drawn from the pariahs of humanity, and Zielony depicts each dreaming of a life different from the one he or she is living, thus complicating the relationship between reality and its representation.

At Galleria Lia Rumma, a cathode-tube television played Big Sexy land, 2008, the artist's first film, set in a porn theater in Berlin that is frequented by young prostitutes from Eastern Europe. The reflected light of a film intermittently illuminates the emaciated face of a dozing man, shown in looming close-up. Emphasizing the space between dream and desire, the situation refers, with bitter irony, to the exhibition's title. Der Brief (The Letter), 2012, and Danny, 2013, are also tied to the world of prostitution. In the former, which is shot like a documentary, two prostitutes recount the story of one of their colleagues, pursued by a disturbed client and forced to move and change her place of work. The latter video is more ironic, centering on the way a prostitute, now past her prime, lures her clients. In an unspecified street in the Ruhr valley in western Germany, she takes advantage of an improvised installation of little colored lights to attract the attention of potential johns. The same gadget reappears in The Street (C.P.A.), 2013, in which underage and parentless Bengali youths sell neon lights and other electrical sundries to tourists in order to survive in a refugee camp on the outskirts of Rome.

The alienating Vele di Scampia (The Sails of Scampia), 2009, is also set in the urban periphery. A stop-motion animation composed of seven thousand individual frames, it conveys one of the symbols of the social and urban degradation of Scampia, a suburb in northern Naples: the infamous "Sails," Francesco Di Salvo's ill-fated housing project (a poor relation of Le Corbusier's Unite d'Habitation). …

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