Comments/Context: Given how prolific Wolfgang Tillmans is, it's not at all surprising that his gallery would have a large number of boxes of his prints in different sizes back in the storage room, in the event a potential collector or client might like to review a selection of works. With this exhibit, the gallery has begun a multi-part series where it will invite an individual curator to look through these boxes of ready prints and to select a group to be displayed in the small single room space near the offices. The show builds on Tillmans' own idea of a living, growing artistic archive, one that can be remixed and re-edited to generate alternate views. The difference here is that instead of Tillmans carefully doing the choosing and sequencing (as is normally the case), someone else is jumping into the complexity of his work and drawing his or her own conclusions.
What these repackaged juxtapositions tell us about Tillmans's photography that we didn't already know is less clear; quite a few of the images on view here will be familiar to those that saw his last show at the gallery in 2010 (review here). This selection and arrangement imposes a framework that often focuses the viewer on elements of composition, showing us that Tillmans may have consciously repeated similar ideas across relatively short periods of time, the structures explored serially and then sometimes returned to in modified form again and again. Or perhaps some of these connections were completely unconscious, only visible when seen at the aggregate level across many years.
Rather than pin too much on one intepretation or another or to unnaturally overthink things, I think it is best to see this show as a cleverly selected Tillmans playlist, with hits and rarities in equal measure, and with a conscious set of smart connections to make you think as you shuffle from one image to the next.
Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)
- Artist site (here)
Through June 11th
Andrea Rosen Gallery
525 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011