Urban dystopias by Tobias Zielony

Between architecture and portraits, Tobias Zielony's pictures recount the unforgiving life at Scampia, Naples, and Zielona Gora, Poland.

Tobias Zielony´s first solo exhibition in Germany is an unforgiving depiction of life on two housing estates that were was once considered to be the future of social housing. Through stop-motion film and photography, Zielony has portrayed the banality of the dystopian and criminal existence of adolescents living in dark-stained concrete estates in Naples and Zielona Gora, a Polish town near the German border. The first building, “Le Vele di Scampia” in northern Naples built by Franz Di Salvo in the seventies to much fanfare. The architect felt the building, (in English ‘the sails’) with its radical tiered form with galleries and social spaces was a revolution. Now it is one of the key symbols of the failure of Italian socialism. It is widely known as a Camorra battlefield and its apartments were squatted by mafia families even before completion and the building complex is regarded as a symbol of the Camorra´s power in the Naples region and a key centre of European drug trafficking. It was used as the set of the film Gomorra.

Zielony´s film of the building is made of seven thousand single images, shot at night with a digital single-lens reflex camera, are used to create nine minutes of animation film. The pace slows and stops, disassociating itself from real time with harsh cuts and an uncertain rhythm. The architecture in and out of focus, Zielony captures the same lethargy here, the transitory state between night and day. The smooth marriage of utopian architecture and dystopian society. There is no notion of mafia or even nationality. Just young, broken kids slouching, smoking, disappearing into shadows. Beatrice Galilee

Tobias Zielony , born 1973 in Wuppertal, studied documentary photography in Bristol and photography in Leipzig. Since 2009 he has held a professorship in photography at the KHM in Cologne. Zielony has photographed since 2000 in such different places as Halle-Neustadt, Los Angeles, Bristol, Winnipeg and Marseille.

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