Tobias Zielony: Story/No Story

Posted in narrative photography, Photobooks (general) by Alec Soth on June 5, 2010

A few weeks ago at the Fotobook Festival in Kassel, the folks at Schaden showed me their single copy of Story/No Story by Tobias Zielony. The book wasn’t for sale yet, but I knew I had to get my hands on it. Yesterday the book arrived and I was relieved to find it was as great as I’d remembered. The book is made up of thirteen chapters documenting young people in various locations around the globe. Usually photographed at night, the teens are invariably drawn to generic locales like car parks, gas stations and other public spaces. As the book’s title suggests, their is no story. But this, in fact, is the story of so many young people around the world. They gather at night and wait for something to happen. In an interview included in the book, Zielony quotes one girl he photographed who said, “We’re not bored. Boredom is just a word for what we do anyway.”

One might think that thirteen chapters of kids loitering might be, well, boring. But Zielony’s book is almost cinematic. Flipping through the pages, I feel like I’m floating around the world at night. “There’s a latent narrative,” Zielony says in the book’s interview, “It’s in the situations, in the youth’s imaginations. You can’t say that nothing is happening. My photo series disclose this potential narrative.

More info here and here

4 Responses

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  1. Berton Chang said, on June 15, 2010 at 2:00 am

    Thanks for sharing. Here in Hong Kong we rarely get a chance to come across books or artist of this nature. Even though Tokyo, Beijing and Shanghai are relatively close, the interest for some thing like this is limited. A big high five to the internet.


  2. Ossi said, on June 15, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    I find this type of work extremely interesting, because it reflects to a wide range of audience. I guess we all can relate to youth and its vivid nature wherever we might live. The legacy of Larry Clarke, Sally Mann or Jim Goldberg is truly alive in Zielonys work, and every time there is more to discover.
    One practical thing I wanted to ask is how the photographer deals with right of publishing when taking pictures of young people on the street? For example, do they need a signed photo release from their parents to publish their image on a book?

  3. Janette Ahrens said, on June 29, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    I saw this book today – in Hamburg – at the Deichtorhallen Bookshop, and you’re right, it is great! The paper, the colours, and of course the subject matter. Ossi, excellent reference to the work of Jim Goldberg. I’m seeing a lot of photographers working in this direction lately. If I weren’t traveling right now I would buy a copy myself, but it’s a pain to schlepp around an extra weighty suitcase…

  4. Antonello said, on September 29, 2010 at 3:45 am

    I bought 2 works by Tobias few years ago and I regret not having bought more, I so would like to see the short movie he did on “le vele di scampia” featured in the hambourg show, I missed the show. I think he can be compared to the American Ryan Mc Kinley and a more senior artist Nan Golding beside Wolfgang Tillmans. Tobias is refreshingly simple and deep at the same time. He place himself in the great European (german) tradition of Artists Photographers (the Dusseldorf School – well he is from Wuppertal, close).

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