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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wolfgang Tillmans Strikes Again

Aaron Rose—who, over a decade ago, founded Alleged Gallery, the legendary little storefront gallery in the Lower East Side that had a pivotal role in shaping the careers of Terry Richardson, Ed Templeton, Barry McGee and other street-inspired outcast artists, and who now works as an independent curator when he's not editing books like Young, Sleek, and Full of Hell (Drago)—gives us his take on the new Wolfgang Tillmans solo show...

Last Friday night I was fortunate enough to attend the opening of Wolfgang Tillmans new show at Andrea Rosen gallery. If you've never heard of Tillmans, he made his name in the early 1990s with his snapshot-style photojournalism for magazines like i-D in London. Well, he's come a long way since then and though he still contributes to magazines, he's now considered one of the most important contemporary photographers out there.

What I love most about his work is that even though he's been at it for twenty years or something, he hasn't lost his edge. I could see at the opening that he was just as excited about this installation as he must have been back in the day. There's a playfulness in his technique that shows that he continues to experiment even though he doesn't really have to anymore. I guess my best description of what I felt at the show would be that it looks like he's having fun with photography. Like a child.

Even more importantly, for the last few exhibitions of his I've seen, he's set up wooden vitrines throughout the gallery filled with ephemera. Some of it is photographic, but most of it is political, dealing with American imperialism, the war in Iraq, the AIDS crisis and a host of other important issues that many contemporary artists (for some reason) tend to ignore of late. It's super refreshing to see an artist doing his job. Not just by creating visually inspiring work, but by making people aware of the world around them and how each and every one of us has a role in making it a better place.

Wolfgang Tillmans, Through November 24th, Andrea Rosen Gallery, 525 West 24th Street, NY, NY 10011