Tobias Zielony


Tobias Zielony was born in 1973 in Wuppertal, Germany. His critical approach to social documentarism makes him a most discussed artists in contemporary German photography. After studying Documentary Photography at the University of Wales, Newport, Zielony entered Timm Rauterts’ class for artistic photography at the HGB Leipzig in 2001. His solo exhibitions have been presented at C/O Berlin (2007), Kunstverein Hamburg (2010), Folkwang Museum Essen, MMK Zollamt Frankfurt, Camera Austria Graz (2011), and Berlinische Galerie (2013). In 2014 he was selected for the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennial 2015. Tobias Zielony lives and works in Berlin.

Artist Profile


HD Video, 2’ 44”, sound with English subtitles

Some stories sound fictional, but the fears and events behind them are certainly genuine. In 2014, the residents of a refugee home in a former high school in the Moabit neighborhood of Berlin told Zielony that they heard voices and saw ghosts in the showers at night. As it turned out, one of the city’s largest synagogues had once stood nearby, as had a railway station where Jewish citizens had been herded onto trains to the concentration camps. Zielony conducted interviews and shot footage he assembled into a film (Ghosts, 2016). Voices sometimes speak up when we least expect them to, and even when we hear them – some of us prefer not to – we do not always believe what they tell us. Zielony’s film captures the fear and anxiety that the barrier between the past and what is happening today might be lower than common sense likes to imagine.

In the video it is not clear exactly what is going on and who is talking. the text titles are not translations of the conversation and the sound is not running in sync with the video. you have to make your own account of the events that might have happened in the building, and of how they may relate to the past. When dealing with ghosts – or stories of the past – there is no simple right and wrong.

Text: Alexander Koch
Translation: Gerrit Jackson
Editing: Kimberly Bradley

Screened at SF Kino.

Image: Tobias Zielony, Ghosts (2016), HD Video, 2’ 44”, sound with English subtitles, video still. Courtesy of the artist and KOW, Berlin.