At just over 430 pages, this monumental and beautifully designed new monograph presents the most comprehensive view of the London-based photographer Wolfgang Tillmans’s work to date, featuring many photographic works and abstract “paintings” from the past five years that have never been published before.
When he is working on an exhibition or a publication, Tillmans displays and combines pictures on long tables in his studio so that the images are “held in position only by their own weight. The method of laying out two-dimensional objects on a table produces ‘clarity’ and allows perspective. A new text emerges through the combination of intrinsically different pieces of paper. The issues dealt with on these tables do not claim to be fully comprehensive and the items chosen do not profess to be definitive examples of their kind. Rather, this multivocal process allows me to amplify voices I feel need strengthening, contrasting them with their opposites and their neighbors.” This method has become a concept. In Manual the artist combines his own photographs, painterly works and texts together with already existing newspaper articles to create an associative, comprehensive view. The material is condensed into a complex artistic dialogue with various social and political themes, like AIDS or the question of absolute truth, which the artist has been exploring for years.