Wolfgang Tillmans


by Francesco Bonami

Browsing through i-D magazine it is quite difficult to define what makes Wolfgang Tillmans`s pictures different from those of his colleagues. It is difficult because they all seem to look the same, while they are not. Tillmans`s photos have something else that push them beyond the magazine and into that golden limbo also known as contemporary art. Just what is it? I can`t say exactly. You can feel it, but you can`t see it.
I am reminded of the 1965 film l`uomo dei pallonici (The Man of the Balloons) from 1965 by Italian director Marco Ferreri. It is an absurd, simple, but chilling tale of an industrialist who becomes obsesses with that exact moment when a balloon is completely inflated and has not yet exploded. Obviously, he ends up suicidal because it is a moment that cannot be detect. The character is trapped inside the maze of stasis Ò a maze shared by most of Tillmans`s subjects. Nothing is really happening because the forces of reality are balanced by the force of the mind. Nobody is moving, nobody is thinking. Everybody is located in that moment of inertia where all images are born, before their meaning, before their end. What we are looking at are stills of stillness.
This is probably why Tillmanns`s photographs are different and why they cannot be perceived by browsing, but only page after page, slowly.
Feeling, thinking, and the gaze must be suspended. The viewer cannot refer to his likes or dislikes, but must abandon himself to this kind of grungy zenÏ where Tillmanns`s friends and characters reside.
What we are presented with is a world where questions and answers, judgements and sentiments are left hanging; we take part in the observance of those motionless observers living in a PG-rated age.

What attracted Francesco Bonami to Wolfgang TillmansÌs photographs was their inability to be openly different. His inquiry led him to that space that lies between the pages of a magazine and the walls of a gallery, to that momentary void which sees the sender and the recipient transformed, and the authorÌs point of view questioned through the eye of the subject.

Flash Art 95