Curator: Adelina Vlas, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

The works in “Live Cinema/Peripheral Stages” address the experience of marginality and question the social conditions—particularly those of twenty-first century cities—that generate and sustain it.

Representative of a young generation of artists turning their attention toward contemporary society, Mohamed Bourouissa’s and Tobias Zielony’s imagery builds on the traditions of both documentary and portraiture photography. By immersing themselves in the social reality of a situation or location, the two artists produce photographs and videos that deal with the peripheral condition in a direct and thought-provoking manner.

Both artists work primarily as photographers, creating compositions that reveal, in critical yet poetic ways, the social tensions inherent in living within the periphery of contemporary society. Defined as the edge or outskirts of an urban area, the periphery has become synonymous with under-resourced geographical regions beleaguered by social and economic problems. By focusing their lenses on the marginalized class of young men and women of the urban fringes, the two artists bring to light the complexity of this group, which is often neglected or misrepresented by the mass media. In the resulting images, representation becomes a form of resistance.

With his Écrans (Screens) series of photographs, showing the smashed surfaces of television monitors, Mohamed Bourouissa refuses to conform to the common framing of recent events and current realities by challenging the mechanism by which images are distributed, turning that into an image in itself. In the video Temps mort (Time Out), he documents a year-long exchange via mobile telephones between him and a jailed acquaintance, restoring a sense of humanity to a marginal condition frequently unnoticed.

In Vele (Sails), Tobias Zielony expands his photographic exploration beyond portraits of marginal youths to the built environment they inhabit, not only to place them in their context, but also to challenge the more established narratives of violence and corruption associated with Scampia, a suburb of Naples, Italy. Known for its ties to organized crime, this particular locale and its decaying utopian structures become the focus of Zielony’s photographs and photo-animation, which capture the palpable uncertainty of life under such harsh circumstances.

Production of artworks and loan assistance provided in part by Galleria Lia Rumma, Milan-Naples, and Kamel Mennour, Paris.