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Storyboard (Monuments Men), 2015

Mixed media installation

The installation STORYBOARD (MONUMENTS MEN) was made for the Gorki Theater, Berlin, in 2015. In a perhaps reckless act of simplification that flirts with the building blocks of conspiracy theories, Zielony’s four glass display tables trace connections between Nazi looted art, Germany’s newly confident museum and restitution policies, George Clooney’s campaign against genocide and his appearance in a Nespresso advertising spot, and Napuli Langa’s occupation of a tree on Oranienplatz. Are these all connected? In a way they are. In 2013, the very rooms of Berlin’s Palais am Festungsgraben for which Zielony created his piece were among the locations where Clooney shot “The Monuments Men”, the heroic story of the American special unit that saved artistic treasures plundered by the Nazis. Some of them are now in the care of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (the Humboldtforum, currently under construction, is highly controversial).

Clooney’s work on humanitarian issues extends beyond the silver screen – it has taken him to outer space and back. Since 2010, his Satellite Sentinel Project has raised funds to help collect satellite-image evidence of crimes against international law. In the 2013 movie Gravity, Clooney then floated through space, dodging dangerous manmade debris. His dizzying metamorphoses – from movie hero to charity star, from Nestlé advertising icon to political agent – leave the facility manager of the Palais am Festungsgraben, whose observations are included in Zielony’s installation, unfazed. Magdi Lel-Gizouli, one of the authors in Zielony’s Citizen project, expands upon the complex set of issues, drawing connections between German migration law and the ways ethnographic collections are presented, between the refugee protests and the construction of a German arms factory in his native Sudan. Is this reality? Or fiction? It is a storyboard for a narrative about reality.

Tobias Zielony, Storyboard (Monuments Men), 2015, mixed media installation, 120 x 664 x 65 cm
Tobias Zielony, Storyboard (Monuments Men), 2015
Tobias Zielony, Storyboard (Monuments Men), 2015
Tobias Zielony, Storyboard (Monuments Men), 2015
Tobias Zielony, Storyboard (Monuments Men), 2015, mixed media installation, 120 x 664 x 65 cm
Tobias Zielony, Storyboard (Monuments Men), 2015, mixed media installation, 120 x 664 x 65 cm
Tobias Zielony, Storyboard (Monuments Men), 2015, mixed media installation, 120 x 664 x 65 cm
Tobias Zielony, Storyboard (Monuments Men), 2015, mixed media installation, 120 x 664 x 65 cm
Tobias Zielony, Storyboard (Monuments Men), 2015, mixed media installation, 120 x 664 x 65 cm

Video 1:
Magdi El Gizouli, Sudanese scientist and writer

Video 2:
Dietrich Senger, former caretaker of Palais am Festungsgraben

Assistance: Magdalena Bichler, Mailena Mallach
Research: Sara Löve Dadadóttir, Roman Deckert
Typography: Ina Kwon
Video editing: Janina Herhoffer
Translation: Carrie Roseland, Christina Gauglitz
Subtitles: Carrie Roseland
Commissioned by Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin 2015

Photo credit: Tobias Zielony, Dietrich Senger, DigitalGlobe, Satellite Sentinel Project / Enough Project, Ethnologisches Museum Dahlem

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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.



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