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"Doing things others wouldn’t be interested in doing" Wolfgang Tillmans and his London exhibition space "Between Bridges"


There is certainly political intent behind Wolfgang Tillmans’ work – but that’s not enough for him. Instead of merely complaining about the complacency and self-satisfaction so rampant in the art world, he’s resorted to action. “Between Bridges,” the exhibition space in London Tillmans has now opened, is committed to presenting political artists and positions that have been ignored by the art market. The opening exhibition consists of photographs, a short film, and a crocodile by the New York artist and activist David Wojnarovicz, who died of AIDS in 1992. Louise Gray asked Tillmans about his project and, despite his initial reservation, came close to receiving a full interview with the artist.



Wolfgang Tillmans, Between Bridges, 1999,
Courtesy Wolfgang Tillmans, London

There are two railway bridges close to one another on east London's Cambridge Heath Road, and it's here that Wolfgang Tillmans opened his first gallery in mid-April 2006. Aptly named Between Bridges - the gallery also takes its name from a photograph that the West German-born photographer took in 1999 from the front seat of a car traveling along a clear road - the gallery is, as its name suggests, both a precise location as well as a place between places. In fact, Between Bridges is a small space - the former foyer, a stairway, and an upstairs landing - in the post-war building that also houses Tillmans' studio.



David Wojnarowicz, Untitled, 1991,
©Between Bridges, London

Upon entering the building, you are confronted with an intimate space and ten works - mainly photographs, but including a short film and a small model of a crocodile - by the late American artist David Wojnarowicz. This small show represents the first appearance of Wojnarowicz's work in the UK, but modestly, Tillmans does not want to do any press for the opening of Between Bridges. "The focus is on David Wojnarowicz," he says engagingly over the telephone. "I want to hold back personally," he continues - he's not saying so, but Tillmans knows that his own fame would draw attention away from the work at hand.



David Wojnarowicz, from the series "Arthur Rimbaud in New York", 1978-79/2004,
Courtesy Cabinet, London

And then he relents. "[Between Bridges] is an artist-run gallery focusing on political art - although not exclusively," Tillmans says. "It's for art that doesn't necessarily have a voice, because the artists are either dead or of no commercial interest. I want to do things others wouldn't be interested in doing."



Wolfgang Breuer, Untitled, bench with berries, 2005,
Installation London 2005
©Wolfgang Breuer

The next exhibition at Between Bridges will be of the young Berlin-based artist Wolfgang Breuer. Breuer primarily works in public space, in cities like Berlin or London. His interventions, often very quiet and only detectable at second glance, offer assistance, such as the spray-painted notes that direct passers-by to the next drugstore on a particular street or the reflecting wall that he painted for a plant on the street curb. Or they are fine "embellishments" of the surroundings, such as his arrangements of leaves in barrier fences or of berries on park benches. For the Berlin project "Sehnsüchtig gleiten Ballone rund um die Welt" (Balloons drift longingly around the world), Wolfgang Breuer locked a bicycle with a handmade lock outside, next to the exhibition pavilion. He fashioned the lock from spring steel, shrinkage hose, and rowan berries. It was the appearance of the lock and not its obviously meager mechanical sturdiness that was meant to prevent the bicycle from being stolen. Breuer's site-specific works are full of references to Conceptual Art, Minimal Art, and Land Art. At the same time, they unsettle the viewer in a completely unique way in that their apparently poetic and imaginative solutions address subversive questions concerning economic, social, and ecological issues. "He's still at the beginning, but he's making very exciting things," says Tillmans, who is obviously enthusiastic about the work.



Wolfgang Breuer, Untitled
(bikelock that protects by the way it looks rather than its strength) , Installation Berlin 2006
2006 Courtesy Longing Balloons
©Wolfgang Breuer

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