‘Today, Los Angeles is everywhere.’ — Bret Easton Ellis
The route into the Center of the German photographer Tobias Zielony’s imagery is via the periphery. Periphery meaning, on the one hand, the suburbs in which Zielony locates his photographic scenarios, and, on the other, a category of the peripheral that plays a central role in his aesthetic experimental designs.
Tobias Zielony’s new series, The Hidden, is set in Los Angeles. As utopian locations of longing, Los Angeles and California have, in particular during the 20th century, created projections that still exist today in the positive clichés of a carefree life in permanent sunshine, in television series such as The O.C. or in the poolside images of David Hockney. In parallel, an equally clichéd darker counterimage has been established, which, with motifs of earthquakes, race riots, gang warfare, police brutality and permanent smog, has occasionally become apocalyptic. In his ‘hardboiled’ detective novels, Raymond Chandler gave written form to this darker L.A. that seems to permanently provoke its own destruction.
The film equivalent was film noir, and directors like Michael Mann and David Lynch have transferred its aesthetic strategies into the present time. The shots in Zielony’s series, taken at night and with artificial lighting, follow in the tradition of the neo-noir and seem saturated by the film and photographic models that have sped up the process by which Los Angeles has become an image in public consciousness. All the typical setpieces of an iconography of Los Angeles are there that make up the basic repertoire of a utopian promise, but they are presented as in a darkened, distorting mirror that threatens to become dull.
The global mainstream of images has greedily assimilated the local manifestations of youth subcultures; new variants of the subcultures are absorbed, in an inexhaustible cycle, and regurgitated in advertising images, video clips, podcasts, series and films.
(Based on a text by Jutta von Zitzewitz)