Freedom From The Known
Steidl & Partners
Freedom From The Known is Wolfgang Tillmans’ first major solo exhibition for an American museum, and unlike any he has ever previously mounted. The exhibition shown at P.S.1/ MoMA focuses on the artist’s purely abstract photographs, and explores the presence abstraction has had within his figurative and representational work. Twenty-four of the twenty-five large-scale works onview were produced specifically for this exhibition and have never been shown before.
“This group of pictures grew together whilst I was working on this project. I thought about how to express in a simple but not blunt way an awareness of exhibiting in a country whose politics fill me with a great deal of fear and anger. There is a glaring dichotomy of working with pure abstraction, which is extremely removed from literal political content, and the personal sense of urgency that dominates much of my waking hours. Yet I feel the purely abstract works and non-direct political contentphotographs are my freedom of expression, my resistance to feeling completely dominated by the fall-out of a world bent on reviving ideologies and interested in erecting borders and barriers and [inciting] hatred between people.” Wolfgang Tillmans
Tillmans’ large-scale abstractions are presented in frames — a departure for an artist who pioneered a style of installation based on taping and pinning pictures directly to the wall. The elusive, transitory images in the abstractions, when framed, can be seen as objects in space, displaying both buoyancy and weight. Most of these works are “camera-less” — pictures made by the direct manipulation of light on paper, rather than on a negative.
Alongside the abstract works, a group of figurative/representational photographs from the series Empire, based on pictures Tillmans made between 1991 and 2002, are on view. The original pictures used for Empire were either passed through a photocopy or fax machine, then scanned to the highest possible resolution, turned into large-scale C-prints and framed. Due to the large format, minor surface incidents are intentionally enhanced, along with the grain and grit. A selection of earlier photographs is also included to provide a context for Tillmans’ passage from figurative and representational imagery to abstraction. These more conceptual works reveal the self-reflective impulse underpinning his work and use of medium.
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- With an essay by Bob Nickas
- 80 pages, 18 colour plates, 8 duotone plates
- 22.5 cm x 27.7 cm
- Clothbound hardcover
- Steidl & Partners
- ISBN: 3-86521-263-8