A 14-year survey on Bankside around the international photographer's 'expanded practice'.
The career of Wolfgang Tillmans is perhaps testimony to the cultural benefits of staying in Europe. In 1990 the German photographer studied in Bournemouth. By the time he graduated he was publishing in UK magazines (most notably, i-D). In 2000 he became the first non-Brit to win the Turner Prize. In 2003 his relationship with this sceptered isle was cemented by a solo show at Tate Britain.
It is then little surprise that his campaigning against Brexit was fervent. The posters, writings and social media gifs are still available on his site. It’s a poignant reminder of what could have been.
Still, he is never one for looking too far back. His forthcoming show at Tate Modern will document only the most recent 14 years of his career. And despite his roots in the UK club scene, and his position on the board of trustees, he arrives at Bankside as a truly international figure.
Of course, photography has changed plenty since 2003. In 2012, Tillmans ‘went electric’ and gave up film for digital HD. At the same time he has delved into the possibilities of abstract photography, using photographic paper without a camera, to make photography that also qualifies as sculpture.
In the gallery's au courant phrase for it, the multi-talented German has an ‘expanded practice’ and the new show will feature digital slide projections, publications, curatorial projects and music. (You can take the young man out of the club scene, but you can’t… etc.). Tillmans will be programming performances and live installations in the South Tank for 10 of the days on which the show can be seen.