Reflections on Tillmans

The work of Wolfgang Tillmans, a German photographer, seems perfectly housed in the downtown, chaotic, teeming environment in which the Johannesburg Art Gallery has washed up, like a shipwreck on the beach after Fukushima, faintly radioactive.

Much of Tillman’s art is seemingly artless – and sometimes, in his work, to my eye at least, art less means without art. Yet there are images, too, in his world of found objects, circumstance, accident, composition and observation, that are interesting, unsettling, and occasionally quite powerful.

These half-dozen images are images of Tillman’s images, but also reflections.

 

Sea Washing

On the north side of the quay, just across the way from the Cape Grace Hotel, is the Victoria Basin, and a dry-dock where Taiwanese trawlers come to have their paintwork and their bodywork done – like elderly ladies at a beauty parlour. It is a study in contrasts.

A contrast I like even more, is this image of seaman’s washing, hanging on the rigging of one of the trawlers to dry, with the Zeitz-MOCAA – the Museum of Contemporary African Art – in the background.

Think of it as an outdoor installation. I call it, if you’ll go with the play on words, ‘Sea Washing.’

Sea washing, before the Zeitz-MOCAA