Maureen Paley is pleased to present the first solo exhibition in the UK by Wolfgang Tillmans since Truth Study Centre in 2005 and his sixth at Maureen Paley since 1993. An exhibition in two parts, the installation in the ground floor gallery comprises work that oscillates between black and white and almost monochrome colour photographs like Die Schwärze, which depicts a melting glacier’s majestic curve around a black, snow capped mountain. Surfaces vary from photographic paper, ink jet prints and photocopies to the bent and creased photographs from his ongoing sculptural series, Lighter. Tillmans has produced the Lighter series without a camera, and as with all his photographs he considers the resulting works as objects. This process of bending and folding lifts the work further out of the two dimensions of the photographic image and into the space of the room where they are able to reflect and interact. In a recent interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, Tillmans described these works as “compositions, but, at the same time, an object has been inserted into them”.1
The photocopy works are another form of abstraction. Often associated with appropriation and the recycling of existing images, Tillmans began using photocopies in the late 1980s as a way to create ephemeral and inexpensive original enlargements. Ceremony from 2007 depicts a traditional English procession but the colour and detail that would anchor the scene in a specific place and time are missing, creating ambiguity, and allowing space for new interpretations. Your Dogs depicts two sleeping dogs obstructing a pavement; by not conforming with the relentless pace of daily life, they confront us with an alternative sense of freedom.
This exhibition presents a series of interactions between nature and man-made artefacts. In Non Specific Threat, spiders appear to invade an American cityscape from the sky, and in Growth, a creeping plant engulfs its host building whilst a young boy walks past, oblivious to the spectacle behind him.
The first floor gallery contains a large multichannel video installation combining previously unseen and rarely screened work from 1987, 1994 and 2003 with recent footage. Using minimal editing and ambient sound, this series of observational videos are moving images rather than narrative constructions. The installation of these works follows a logic established through exhibitions of Tillmans’ photographs, emphasising the connections and disjunctions between each piece. The presence of nature in the work in the ground floor gallery is echoed upstairs by the close-up sequence of a snail slowly traversing the artist’s hand. Another video observes the incongruous combination of the 1990 hit record Wind of Change played by street musicians in front of the Europacentre building in Berlin with its rotating rooftop Mercedes sign.
Tillmans’ solo exhibition Lighter is on at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin until 24 August. A new book also called Lighter has been published by Hatje Cantz to accompany the exhibition and brings together a large selection of photographs documenting installations of Tillmans’ work over the last two decades.
Wolfgang Tillmans was born in Remscheid, Germany in 1968 and lives and works in Berlin and in London, where he also runs the project space Between Bridges. In addition to Lighter, current and forthcoming exhibitions include solo shows at the Museo Tamayo, Mexico and the Stedelijk Museum CS, Amsterdam, and the 55th Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, History in the Making: A Retrospective of the Turner Prize at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, and Street & Studio: An Urban History of Photography at Tate Modern and Museum Folkwang, Essen.
Tate Britain will present a major installation by Tillmans as part of the BP British Art Displays from the end of May 2008.
- Wolfgang Tillmans and Hans Ulrich Obrist, The Conversation Series, Vol. 6. Cologne: Verlag Buchhandlung Walther König, 2007