Wolfgang Tillmans votes Remain in latest London exhibition

Eighth solo exhibition
Recently opened at London’s Maureen Paley, German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans’ eighth solo exhibition at the space reflects on ‘the visible and invisible borders that define and sometimes control us’. Pictured: The State We’re In, A, 2015
(Image credit: Wolfgang Tillmans)

The German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans confesses he has ‘morphed in recent months from an inherently political, to an overtly political person’. It’s a sentiment seemingly shared by many. The lead-up to the EU referendum on 23 June has seen a relentless barrage of fervid campaigning, impassioned pleas and heated contentions from both sides of the aisle.

So to London, where the theme – and timing – of his new solo exhibition at Maureen Paley couldn’t be more appropriate, however coincidental. Featuring new and previously unseen work, Tillmans’ latest effort hones in on the ‘visible and invisible borders that define and sometimes control us’.

The self-titled exhibition comprises a characteristically eclectic mix of subjects, including immigration counters, pastel landscapes, street portraits and even a particularly squirm-inducing, close-up of human blood flowing through medical tubes. Upstairs, a new grouping of tables from his ongoing truth study center series have been installed. Another work, I refuse to be your enemy 2, (2016), collates blank sheets of office paper from North America and Europe. Inspired by a student workshop Tillmans gave last year in Iran, the artist comments on the parallels in nationalised forms of printed communication.

The largest work, The State We’re In, A (2015), takes pride of place in the downstairs gallery. Capturing a stark expanse of water in the Atlantic Ocean, where ‘international time lines and borders intersect’, it’s the work that resonates most with Tillmans’ pro-EU poster designs, examples of which are being presented on the exterior of Maureen Paley.

‘What is lost is lost forever’ says one poster; ‘No man is an island. No country by itself’ declares another. Originally launched in April, the works are available freely on his website (opens in new tab), where Tillmans encourages their download and dissemination as posters and T-shirts. He has also dedicated his Berlin project space, Between Bridges, to the refugee crisis. The line between where Tillmans the artist ends, and Tillmans the campaigner begins is becoming all the more blurred.

The photographer recently captured the Tate Modern’s Herzog & de Meuron-designed extension for our latest issue and limited edition cover, ahead of a major retrospective there early next year. With the EU referendum just over a week away, it will be fascinating to see how Tillmans responds to this ‘one-in-a-generation moment’.

Characteristically eclectic mix of subjects printed in varying sizes

The self-titled exhibition comprises a characteristically eclectic mix of subjects printed in varying sizes

(Image credit: Wolfgang Tillmans)

The timing – and theme – of Tillmans

Ahead of the EU referendum in just over a week, the timing – and theme – of Tillmans' show could be more appropriate

(Image credit: Wolfgang Tillmans)

A close-up of human blood flowing through medical tubes outside of the human body

Tillmans' works question the notion of borders. A close-up of human blood flowing through medical tubes outside of the human body (pictured right) sits alongside landscapes and street portraits

(Image credit: Wolfgang Tillmans)

Collates blank sheets of office paper from North America and Europe

I refuse to be your enemy 2, 2016, collates blank sheets of office paper from North America and Europe. Inspired by a student workshop Tillmans gave last year in Iran, the artist comments on the parallels in nationalised forms of printed communication

(Image credit: Wolfgang Tillmans)

Installation view at Maureen Paley

Installation view at Maureen Paley, London

(Image credit: Wolfgang Tillmans)

Posters are being presented on the exterior of Maureen Paley

Meanwhile, examples of Tillmans’ pro-EU posters are being presented on the exterior of Maureen Paley. ‘What is lost is lost forever’ says one poster

(Image credit: Wolfgang Tillmans)

INFORMATION

The exhibition is on view until 31 July. For more information, visit Maureen Paley’s website (opens in new tab)

Photography © Wolfgang Tillmans. Courtesy of Maureen Paley, London

ADDRESS

21 Herald Street
London E2 6JT

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