Wolfgang Tillmans is a photographer, I would hazard to say basically a stylist, but an increasingly political one (of course these things are not mutually exclusive).
I saw his retrospective in London in 2017, and it was genius — not any one piece, just the whole presentation. The show was a prime example of the blasted-out landscape of contemporary art, perfectly housed in the brutalist warehouse of the Tate Modern. Mixed in among his photos were vitrines with abstruse essays from scholarly magazines. I don’t know how many people really focused on them, but their function appeared to be to give gravitas to an otherwise diffuse collection of images. In effect it’s like an act two in a slightly dystopian drama and something you witness over time. There is no exact punctuation: people locate what intrigues them and even if nothing says Art to them, they experience something — titillation, boredom, an expanded awareness of otherness, maybe even a sense of superiority over the artist.
How do artists arrive at mid-career retrospectives where it sort of appears anything goes? I think it’s a matter of having ‘the balls’. I figure I have balls. So if I were the next Tillmans, what sort of venue would I choose? What would I exhibit? (Hint: there would be live action involved.) For more details you’ll have to read my book: HER ARGUMENT, coming out in March. But here’s the big thing about my exhibition – it will have a curated playlist. Super important to me.
(One of my favorite pastimes is compiling playlists, and more are coming down the pike.)
So here is my IF I WERE WOLFGANG TILLMANS PLAYLIST, a loosely curated first draft, designed for a variety of imagined spaces. I bounce between avant-garde ambient jazz, lush soundtrack, hard-core femme rap, old school British punk, some serious rockin’ afro-beat, and a few tunes from my fave indie bands. Like I say, first draft. But I hope it turns your mind around a bit, which I think is one of the necessary functions of modern culture. (btw, the list below is a scrolling one! When the Apple Music promo window appears to white out the playlist, just click back to the playlist and it will reveal all the tune info. Of course Apple Music will only give you 30 seconds of each tune, but at the end of the list, you can head to their streaming site for the full play. I’d love to hear back from y’all if you prefer Spotify and why, otherwise I’d just join Apple Music if I were you. Contact info is my last name at my full name.com)