Wolfgang Tillmans 2017

“What attracts you if anything about this exhibition!? Any work that strikes one?” asks OCA tutor Jayne Taylor as a group of over a dozen students meet. I have been reading the catalogue beforehand and find myself intrigued by Tillman’s approach yet wonder about what he is saying. It seems he is making observations of the world around him and using the medium of photography to do it; a stream of consciousness technique. Being allowed to photograph this exhibition made it more approachable! A previous visit to a Tillmans exhibition in 2013 is HERE

This exhibition is curated by the artist Tillmans rather than by a professional curator; there is no linear progression to the work being shown which presents a wholistic vision of the world. Open ended, not making a statement rather revealing something.

01-Tilmanns 2017 exhibition Ethiopia -20170506-London-4831

The initial photo on entry is reminiscent of a TV screen suffering interference. Colour here is interesting as it seems to change according to the angle of view. It is called “End of Broadcast 2” 2014. I find that it resonates on a personal level. It is repeated at the end of the exhibition which is where this image is from.

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There are travel images yet also close to home images such as those of computers and printers. His setup looks not unlike mine!

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I like the single blocks of colour such as the beige “Lighter, unprocessed ultra 1” 2010; the photograph of this contains an outline selfie!

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17 years supply, 2014 (refers to medical supplies) is a very well lit photograph that looks stunningly real from a distance; I needed to go close up to make sure it was not a sculpture. A reminder that Tilmanns did actually train as a photographer and is technically proficient. In fact, although from Germany which is where he now lives, he did study at art school in Bournemouth and lived awhile in London.

A lot of the work is pleasant to look at remaining free of easily definable meaning.

06-Tilmanns 2017 lobster-20170505-London-4672

Auto crusto a, 2017 has a touch of Martin Parr about it but the presence of the fly is different. The photograph above is of the poster used to advertise the exhibition.

02-Tilmanns 2017 exhibition Ethiopia -20170506-London-4780

Ethiopian market is a huge photo without a trace of grain. Tillmans makes use of Photoshop to present his photography.

08-Tilmanns 2017 newsprint-20170506-London-4785-Edit

I have limited interest in politics but a blow up of text about Saddam Hussein having no WMD that Western politicians refused to accept brings back memories of a time when the West got it wrong and went to war on a whim!

11-Tilmanns 2017 colour design-20170506-London-4795

The solid blocks of colour are also presented with marks on. These are hung around the walls while political print outs are on tables within the room. In fact, the large colour blow ups do not feel out of place here; they are allowed to merge with the other more grounded exhibits.

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Metallica is another theme that emerges. Car headlights also close ups of metallic objects.

10-Tilmanns 2017 coloured patches-20170506-London-4801

The images are varied; a lot of different subjects covered. From solid colour blocks to  intricate detail sometimes in the same image.

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The exhibition space is a labyrinth through which one is free to wander. One room contains large grey panels and blue walls; a sound system plays both music and sound bytes. One can sit here and relax, take a break from the main part of the exhibition! It is called “Playback Room” and is an ongoing project from 2014. The music is background rhythmic; I would happily get up and dance. The sound bytes are of human voices drawn from different sources. I could stay here for much longer but am in a group due to meet again soon! Reluctantly I leave this space!

09-Tilmanns 2017 tables in gallery-20170506-London-4789

A lot of Tillmans published work is also displayed (under glass) including books and posters for exhibitions etc

There is also a video room that feels uncomfortable to me. A man runs on the spot facing a wall while in another image only a jogging shadow is seen. The music is discordant! Am not sorry to leave!

14-Tilmanns 2017 portrait photos-20170506-London-4848

A mosaic of portrait sized photos on one wall; one of these looks strange! Unlike the others it is not a straight image. The head looks as though it has mould on it!

16-Tilmanns 2017 The Sea-20170506-London-4854

Simple yet amazing photographic reproductions!

Tillmans seems to be inviting us into a stream of consciousness … he says, “The beginning of the Iraq War was 14 years ago now!”

The photographs are unframed!! ” … encouraging the viewer to interact with the photograph as an object, rather than a conduit for an image.”

17-Tilmanns 2017 OCA chat-20170506-London-4858

We, a group of Open College of the Arts students, find some LUNCH and then CHAT in one of the rooms that the Tate Modern makes available! Some points are made …

_ Need to look at videos from exhibition. Is the artist successfully in saying what they want!? What about the way they are expressing it?

_ Display tables important in supplying necessary context. Keep a file of relevant information encountered!

_ Way images were hung with clips and tape etc

_ Show itself a giant collage !

_ Unconventional approach to exhibiting. Lack of logical order to exhibits.

_ Captions not next to images allows them to breathe; they are not entirely necessary.

_ Travel photography beside domestic views

_ Life is now deluged by a plethora of images as this exhibition demonstrates. Placing of images appropriate as well as varied.

_ Exhibition like an album, each room a different track! Not being told how to see the work.

_ Tender portraits made without judgement.

_ The lobster photograph which also has a fly; other artists like Damian Hirst have objectified animals in close up and made them large.

_ Tillmans has a lot of self confidence? Secret of his success? I think he has the ability to see!!

_ The Turner Prize has given Tillmans carter Blanche to do what he wants and forge a way for photographers generally!

_ Was the exhibition too much about Tillmans?? He is working with others!

15-Tilmanns 2017 OCA group feet-20170506-London-4863

10 thoughts on “Wolfgang Tillmans 2017

  1. I was gutted to not have had the chance to go see this exhibition! Thankfully Tillman’s is an alumni of ours and he came to the university to do a 2 hour talk on his work and how a lot of his documentation of life is a way of not wasting a moment, especially since he discovered he had AIDS around the same time the treatment was being discovered. It was an absolute inspiration to meet him and hear him speak about his work!

    • I knew that Tillman had studied in Bournemouth and lived in the UK for awhile but was unaware he had contracted AIDS; that is sad! There is a catalogue of the exhibition from TATE but nothing substitutes the experience of actually walking through the exhibition.

      • Indeed, he later told us the image he took of the box of HIV medicine was his own yearly supply to show the vast quantity and sheer volume but also that the contents of one single box is what is keeping him alive. It was quite sad but at the same time his utter positivity was really inspirational. I will definitely have to look into the catalogue

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