Friday, June 22, 2007

Wolfgang Tillmans, Paying Attention

By Michael O'Sullivan @ Washington Post

The last thing you're likely to see on your way out of "Wolfgang Tillmans," a touring retrospective on the 38-year-old German contemporary photographer at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, is a photograph called "You're Not Paying Attention." Lifted from the slogan on an American flag decal shot by the artist, it could be taken as the show's rallying cry.

It's a message that could therefore more properly have been delivered at the beginning of the show, rather than at the end. If a viewer can make it all the way through the show -- idiosyncratically installed by the artist throughout 10 galleries on the museum's second floor -- without having changed the way he or she looks at these photographs, maybe even photography in general, there's little hope that Tillmans's parting shot is going to get through. Through the course of the show itself, on the other hand, the artist does his damnedest to subvert (or at least question) the very way we pay attention to pictures.


No comments: