Wolfgang Tillmans

Tate Modern Edition #50


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Wolfgang Tillmans born 1968
Photocopy on paper
Image: 297 × 420 mm
Presented by the artist 2017


Tillmans’ series of 172 unique colour photocopy prints, Tate Modern Edition 2016, was made in celebration of the opening of Tate Modern’s Switch House extension in June 2016. Tate’s collection holds a selection nineteen prints from the series, numbers 1, 9, 21, 31, 41, 50, 60, 70, 88, 91, 101, 110, 114, 120, 131, 144, 149, 161 and 172 (Tate P20633P20651).

During the construction process of the new extension to the Tate Modern building at Bankside in London, Tillmans visited the site for a day, documenting – via photography – various locations, machinery, people and other points of interest. He subsequently distorted the photographs that he took to differing degrees, using a photocopier from the 1980s which he has in his studio. That photocopier allowed him to scan the images and to separate their colours into CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key, which is black). The images were then printed from the same copier with four passes of each work made, overlaying and offsetting their four colours to create 172 abstracted and unique prints that document a day in the construction of Tate Modern’s extension. The works can be displayed in any configuration.

Tillmans’ diverse body of work is distinguished by a keen observation of his surroundings and an ongoing investigation into, and experimentation with, the foundations of photography and its processes. Playing with the methodologies of exhibition-making, he often pins or tapes his work to gallery walls, builds museological vitrines, or creates wall-based cases for selected works. He also simultaneously challenges the parameters of photographic practice by manipulating technological and chemical processes to distort and abstract his images, as well as reassessing established photographic genres or conventions such as still life, portraiture and landscape. Tate Modern Edition demonstrates both his enduring sensitivity to the specifics of the contemporary world around him, and his engagement with the technical processes of photography and its presentation. In its non-hierarchical approach, where any one image has as much importance as another and the whole represents a multitude of simultaneous and overlapping experiences, Tate Modern Edition, exemplifies the artist’s practice. In a statement for a wall text at his solo exhibition at the Serpentine, London in 2010, he commented: ‘I try to approximate the way I see the world, not in a linear order but as a multitude of parallel experiences. Multiple singularities, simultaneously accessible as they share the same space or room.’

Further reading
Wolfgang Tillmans: if one thing matters, everything matters, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2003.
Wolfgang Tillmans, Neue Welt, Cologne 2012.
Wolfgang Tillmans, On the Verge of Visibility, exhibition catalogue, Fundação de Serralves, Porto 2016.

Laura Smith
November 2016

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