WOLFGANG TILLMANS. LIGHTS (BODY)
27 FEBRUARY – 1 MARCH 2020
CURATED BY ALEJANDRO CESARCO, MASON LEAVER-YAP AND MANUEL SEGADE
Though he is largely known for his photographs, Wolfgang Tillmans –one of the most important artists of his generation– has also been working with video since 1993. The first he exhibited was Lights (Body) in 2002, a piece that shows the automated movements of the lighting systems in two different clubs. The dancing bodies are outside the viewpoint which focuses solely on the lighting systems, but the video was filmed on a full Saturday-night dancefloor. The rising dust that falls under the light beams is the only physical sign of the dancing bodies. In the video, the club is a social place that contrasts with the abstract lighting, the main instrument of the photographic work for which Tillmans is known.
The soundtrack to the video is Don't Be Light (Hacker Remix) by Air, a song that holds a promise of perpetual excitement, but it also has an element of a compilation of the history of clubbing, with an intro that brings to mind New Order’s classic 80s track Blue Monday but also a very 90s techno beat. To some extent, similar to the lights, there is a generic quality to the music, like the shared sense of belonging proper to club culture.
As the artist himself explained in a lecture given at Tate Modern in London: «The only signs of people are the odd reflections of dust particles that cut across the light beams and this particular union between abstraction and social content … ultimately a club is an extremely social place, a meeting place, an exchange of ideas and relationships, and it is also the place for an extremely beautiful abstraction».
This exhibition is included in It’s Just a Matter of Time, the programme of parallel activities for the ARCOmadrid art fair, exploring the influence of Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996) on contemporary art practices. Wolfgang Tillmans’ piece brings to the project the context of the transformation of the individual body in the night-time sociocultural space par excellence.