The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming book to be published by BENEDIKT TASCHEN: Wolfgang Tillmans, 160 pages (scheduled to be released, January 1995) Text by SIMON WATNEY. Courtesy of BENEDIKT TASCHEN.
This specific excerpt refers to one of many particular subject matters that appears in Tillmans' work. It certainly embodies the nature and content of his photographs, but should not be misinterpreted as the primary subject of his photographs.
His photographs of the European club-scene since 1989 are never in the least voyeuristic. On the contrary, he was simply exploring his own culture, and that of his German and British contemporaries. As well as sharing a social life revolving around House-music, he was also actively involved with other social and political issues, ranging from housing and environmentalism, to anti-racism and gay rights. In this respect it is important to recognize that his work is never simply didactic. For Tillmans, his own work is political in its totality, rather than equally in all its individual component parts. Always he is interested in the relations between the different parts of people's lives - the ways in which he and his friends live lives that are at once political, sexual, spiritual, and so on. In conversation he uses the term "parallelism" to express this sense of the inner diversity of the individual, as opposed to the idea that any one personal characteristic necessarily dominates or determines all the others. His work makes no grant inflated claims to be revealing essential 'truths' about particular groups of people, nor is he seeking to present individuals as representatives of larger social groups or constituencies. Thus for example, his well-known club pictures should not be regarded as some kind of "document" of urban youth dance culture in the late Eighties and Nineties. His work is undogmatic, and is not concerned with the making of portentous "statements". Rather, such pictures show us something of the intensity and heightened intimacy of E-culture - its integrity and its breadth. For Tillmans, such pleasures are depicted as one part of life, lived in parallel with his equally strong interest in science, religion, politics, art-making and so on.