In Tillmans’ work his preoccupation with viewing the world from a commonplace perspective is central.
In photography I like to assume exactly the unprivileged position, the position everybody can take, that chooses to sit at an airplane window or chooses to climb a tower. That perspective, on various levels, allows me to work at the same time in a figurative and an abstract manner, analysing what one could call “the surface of the social fabric” and getting forms and shapes from which to derive pictures.
He often adopts the ‘view from above’, which might equally be glimpsing an open landscape from an airplane or standing over snow melting on a pavement. However, rather than assuming a god-like role, Tillmans adopts a self-reflexive position, seeing himself as part of the structure depicted rather than separate from it.
In 1998, the art journal Parkett published 60 of Tillmans’ darkroom accidents and interventions, collected by the artist since he began colour printing in 1990. Tillmans was fascinated by the peculiar beauty of these semi-abstract images and this led him to continue experimenting in a controlled manner. The Conquistador series of photographs were the first of these interventions to be exhibited.