Maureen Paley is pleased to present a fourth exhibition of new work by Wolfgang Tillmans. Together with wall based work Wolfgang Tillmans will screen for the first time a new DVD projection called Body, with a soundtrack by Miss Kitten, that concerns itself with the light and lighting associated and used in night clubs for dancing.
Nathan Kernan: Some of your new works, such as the ink-jet prints of Icestorm. I don’t want to get over you or the Conquistador series, are editioned rephotographs from one-of-a-kind originals. Are all your abstract works made this way?
Wolfgang Tillmans: No, I usually keep the images produced by means of pure light manipulation unique – but make different versions of them, because when there are more of a similar type, it actually enlarges the imaginary field in which they operate. Whereas those you just mentioned, which use a “real” negative of a subject plus abstract interventions, I re-photographed and made into an edition. The whole point of the Intervention Pieces is to create an unnegotiable new image that is presented as a matter of fact or as a new reality. If there were different versions that aim would be undermined. However, I’ve done the opposite with the three versions of Conquistador, which I presented next to each other in the ‘Apocalypse’ exhibition.
NK: Those enormous unframed ink-jet prints were stunning in their powerful colour, yet fragile materiality. What about your ink-jet prints, which you have hung directly on the wall since the early 1990’s? I remember you referred to them as “manifestations” of the image, and that if one deteriorated three or ten years from now that the owner could replace it, is that right? You seemed to acknowledge their inherent impermanence.
WT: Yes, with those impermanence is actually part of the work. I know that they will deteriorate, but there is nothing I can do about it, and the qualities that I get from the ink-jet definitely make their ephemeral nature worthwhile since they offer something that no other technique can. They are also the most archival, conceptually, because you can just store the original master print that was used to print the ink-jet in whatever safe, cool, dark conditions you need to, and then you can reprint the picture as many times as necessary – as long as you destroy the previous one. Given that ink-jet printing will only get better, it’s actually a very safe medium. In a way the fragility of the ink-jet is a kind of paradox – in its fragile and perishable quality also lies its beauty.
I guess I could have an easier life if I didn’t care so much about all the different manifestations of an image, if I didn’t care about making the prints myself or in my studio, but somehow I see that as being part of my work. I understand my work better through this process. I can judge it better, because if I have spent many hours making it, I have a closer eye on it than if it just arrives from the lab at the gallery already mounted and framed.
Excerpt from What They Are: A Conversation with Wolfgang Tillmans, Nathan Kernan
First printed in View from Above published by Louisiana Museum of Modern Art/Hatje Cantz
Wolfgang Tillmans’ major one-person exhibition View from Above can currently be seen at Castello di Rivoli, Turin. Having opened in September 2001 at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg, the show will tour to the Palais de Tokyo, Paris and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek. In 2000 Wolfgang Tillmans was awarded the Turner Prize; his work has been exhibited, published and collected widely both in this country and abroad.
The publication View from Above is available from Walther Koenig Books Ltd, at the Serpentine Gallery .