Interview with the artist by Okwui Enwezor
Over the course of his three-decade career, Thomas Ruff has taken up many approaches to photography in his investigation into the status of the image in contemporary culture.
In Thomas Ruff: Transforming Photography, the artist presents new work that continues his ongoing probe into the history, processes, techniques, and technology of photography. One of the most influential artists working with photography today, Ruff has redefined the medium’s conceptual possibilities, simultaneously capturing and challenging the essence of the medium as a means for visual experience. He has investigated various photographic genres, including portraiture, the nude, and landscape and architectural photography, using both analog and digital technologies, and culling imagery from scientific archives, print media, and the internet.
Presented here is a selection of Ruff’s most well-known works, as well as the newer Tripe/Ruff series, begun in 2018, which draws on negatives of India and Burma taken in the 1850s by Captain Linnaeus Tripe, an officer in the East India Company. Also included is a conversation between Ruff and Okwui Enwezor, which took place at Haus der Kunst in Munich, in connection with the artist’s retrospective then on view. The conversation, published here for the first time, has been edited for this volume and examines Ruff’s artistic practice and inspiration, serving as an engaging and dynamic introduction to the artist.
Published on the occasion of the artist’s solo exhibition at David Zwirner, Hong Kong, in 2019, Thomas Ruff: Transforming Photography is available in both English-only and bilingual English/traditional Chinese editions.