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Dirk and Yao, 2019


For the book project The Great Nowitzki Tobias Zielony portrayed the German Basketball legend Dirk Nowitzki during the last years of his NBA career. The photos which derived from that journey offer a visually unique and yet unknown insight into the world of the superstar athlete and our modern day heroes. Zielony shows this universe beyond the familiar sport journalist iconography.

The work Dirk and Yao depicts two major American sports legends of non-American descent. Their portrait by Tobias Zielony taken in Shanghai was incidentally overexposed by the simultaneous flash of another photographer.

digital C-Print, 240 x 160 cm
ed. of 3 +1 AP

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Tobias Zielony

Born in 1973 in Wuppertal, Germany, Tobias Zielony studied Documentary Photography at the University of Wales, Newport, before he continued with artistic photography at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig under Timm Rautert in 2001. Tobias Zielony is known for his photographic depiction of juvenile minorities in suburban areas – a subject he already set out with during his studies in Newport. For his first book project “Behind the Block” (2004) he then extended his research to a total of four European cities to observe adolescents in public spaces often during night times. Themes and social realities his research touches upon include structural change, migration and drug abuse, as well as sexwork as shown in “Big Sexyland” (2006-2008) and “Jenny, Jenny” (2013). For “Manitoba” (2009-2011) Tobias Zielony spent time with adolescents of indigenous origins living in Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba, Canada. His critical approach to documentarism manifests in a specific aesthetic and relationship with fiction. People are often portrayed in a casual fashion that is sensitive of the visual language, gestures and poses a person uses to set their stage. 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). He participated in the International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York, and was awarded the Karl-Ströher-Preis in 2011. In 2021 he hold his first retrospective "The Fall" at the Museum Folkwang in Essen.

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