Tobias Zielony »Fire Boy«

01 Fire Boy Tobias Zielony

Archival Pigment Print
signed, in frame
24 x 36 cm (9.4 x 14.2 inches)
Edition of 10 + 2 AP

990 Euro

Includes 13% VAT. Please contact us for shipping options, and for pricing in other currencies.

Fire Boy, 2018

The captivating snapshot of a boy juggling with fire is reminiscent of ancient pagan rituals as they used to take place on the occasion of summer and winter solstice, and they still do in Latvia’s rural areas. The boy is part of a group of fire jugglers whom Zielony met at the industrial harbor of Andresjsala on a biting cold winter evening during an excursion to Latvia’s capital, Riga, to create his latest series titled Golden.

After his photographic series Maskirovka of 2017 in which he portrayed Kiev’s queer and techno scene through darkened cityscapes and intimate portraits, Zielony continues his work on underground communities in post-soviet societies. Rather than conveying an underlying sense of fear and fraught politics, as he did in Kiev, Zielony deals in Riga with social and political transformation and how it reflects on the surface of the city itself.

Having depicted various youth cultures around the world in places like Trona (California), Manitoba (Canada), Cluj (Romania) and Chemnitz (Germany) for more than 20 years, in Riga Zielony began thinking about how a young adult proclaims a new idea of self, alongside their disagreement with or rebellion against what they learned while growing up. In using theatrical clothing, masks, makeup and graffiti, he notes, “you try to change the surface, rather than the structure.”

Danner 8714

Tobias Zielony

Tobias Zielony became known for his photographs showing marginalized young people in disadvantaged urban areas – images of youths hanging around and waiting. Socially disadvantaged people and subcultures not perceived by the mainstream were a topic that had already interested Zielony during his studies in the industrial city of Newport, a cradle of British documentary photography. His photographs are portraits in the broadest sense, but they also have an element of the ethnological idea of participating observation. 

He spends a lot of time with the people he photographs, he wins their trust, takes an interest in them. The intimacy he creates and the resultant images evoke the work of Nan Goldin, Larry Clark or early Wolfgang Tillmans. Where Zielony differs, however, is that he immerses himself within new communities rather than his own, and therefore knows there will always be an end to his experiences. He spends a lot of time with the people he photographs, he wins their trust, has an interest in them. Driven by curiosity and solidarity with his protagonists, his pictures always keep a tension between closeness and distance, an undistorted view of truth and fiction, staging and spontaneity.

Read our story with Tobias Zielony in his studio.

Connect with us
Sign up to be among the first to learn about new stories and edition releases along with our bi-weekly Culture Briefing.