Tobias Brust

Tobias is currently living and working in Frankfurt, Germany. Having a background in film and media studies, he makes art as an offset to his academic work. Tobias’s work is largely influenced by his working-class upbringing, his perception of the world as an introverted gay man and an appreciation of media archives and archival research. His appreciation of 35mm film grew considerably ever since he grappled severe forms of depression. What started as a tool to value the ordinary, gradually evolved into a sophisticated medium for creative self-expression.

In Tobias’s photos, we have a feeling that something we don’t know is about to happen, like the previous moment before the storm, calm but still full of energy. Fragile and powerful at the same time, he makes connections between two elements we all know, nature and human desire. These two subjects bond each other to create compelling narratives full of life. The photographer makes as travel to his imaginary world of personal exploration where we can witness the transcendent nature of his photos. Peaceful, intense and silent. The images show a skilled consideration of color and composition, highlighting the valuable relationship of trust and self-portraying between the artist and his subject.

The storm is approaching us. You can feel the rising humidity, pressure and heat. We take off our clothes. The calm sea begins to stir. Sweat goes down your chest. The seagulls return to the coast. The wind blows away everything in its path. Your heart starts to run wild. The windows fog.

1. When did you start to get interested in photography?
I've been snapping pictures ever since I was a teenager but it wasn't until three years ago that I started pursuing photography the way I do today. The summer of 2016 was tough on my mental health and when I was at my lowest during that period it occurred to me that my digital legacy wouldn't be accessible to significant people in my life if I was gone all of a sudden. It's this physicality that draws me to film photography.

My work in art is really just beginning, I finally have the guts to throw it out there with the confidence that is where it needs to be, to start conversations I want to have.

2. Nature and sexuality are two elements present in your photographs. How and when did you start to be interested in them?
I grew up in a teeny-tiny village surrounded by nothing but trees and greenery and as long as I can remember spending time outdoors and in the wild has been a vital source of energy and inspiration for me. My sexuality came into play at a fairly late point in my life when I moved away from the countryside and into the city. However, the shift from living/experiencing my sexuality to unfolding it in my work and showcasing it has taken many years.

3. What is sexuality for you?
It's hard to precisely define the term sexuality when your actual sex life transcends into your whole being and perception as a person. How I work and operate, how I talk, dress, walk, etc. my aesthetics, my taste in music, my politics, and so on, is ultimately linked to me being gay and therefore I think it's impossible for me as a queer person to define this term and draw a line between my sexuality and anything non-sexual.

4. How important is your sexual orientation in your work?
It's so crucial, I assume I wouldn't do this kind of work if it wasn't for my sexual orientation.

5. Would you consider your work as autobiographical?
Absolutely, not only is it autobiographical but existential. I'd like to think that my work reflects me in so many aspects, my upbringing, my working class background, my sexuality, etc. Working with this medium is a very personal act for me. It's what keeps me going when my spirits are low as it has this sort of lengthy and time-consuming character that demands you to exercise patience and work on it for several days. It gives you something to look forward to.

6. The vast majority of your photographs are in portrait format, do you have any special reason?
It's just aesthetics, I guess. I find the landscape format visually not pleasing, therefore I do not make use of it. When I make up a photo in my head I only see in terms of the portrait format.

7. What role does color play in your photographs?
I've been trying to maintain a low profile for the majority of my life, especially when I was a teenager, and still today I'd say I'm very much a plain Jane. The thing is though that I absolutely love colourful and flashy things, which is why colors play an inevitable role in my photography. Maybe it's a way of compensating the greyness that I associate with myself.

8. Do you have other projects on the way?
I do! I'm slow but constantly working on stuff. I would like to put out a little book this year or work on a zine with other people. Although I haven't done one in a while, I also make collages, and I'm working on my thesis on Drag Race/queer archives/the gay memory.