Starring Hari Nef, rapper Ash B., yoga and hula hooping, 'Fragile' includes updates to Tillmans's previous EP, a punk track the esteemed photographer recorded when he was 17, and a new political love song.
Continuing 2016's stellar run of visual albums, Wolfgang Tillmans has released a surprise 27-minute continuous film for Fragile, a new six track record — which includes updated versions of the That's Desire / Here We Are EP — that will launch tonight at London's Maureen Paley gallery.
The film features performances from an eclectic cast including Hari Nef, New Jersey rapper Ash B. (who transforms the earlier EP track "That's Desire" with a freestyle Tillmans says "blew us away"), performance artist Karis Wilde hula hooping, and a lineup of dancers and artists. The project was recorded in New York and L.A. Information about the release explains that the initial plan was to make a video for each track, but when the project was being edited in Berlin with Michael Amstad, it "became clear" that the videos "should not be separated, but should remain as a consecutive sequence of six different moods."
Running through the track list, Tillmans explains that "Four songs have been written and recorded this summer in Fire Island and New York, in a time now marked as 'post Brexit / pre Trump.'" The updated version of "That's Desire" was recorded in just 30 minutes: "Two vocal takes by myself, one by Ash B. That was it." he says. "Warm Star" is a love song with political undertones that includes lyrics that were featured on Tillmans' pro-EU / anti-Brexit posters.
In a blast from Tillmans' musically ambitious past, "Fast Lane" is an "electro-punk piece" he recorded in 1986, when he was 17, "inspired by cold war angst and nausea at political indifference" — feelings that resonate today too. "I wanted the overall feel of the EP to be reflecting the desire to carry on and live our lives in a quest for personal happiness, whatever the circumstances are. We need to protest and campaign, but this shouldn't stop us from reaffirming love and life, here and now," he adds.
Tillmans continues: "'Anderes Osterlied' is a song written by Swiss liberation theologian Kurt Marti in 1970. Even though I find it hard to believe in organized religion, I was and am deeply touched by this song ever since I first heard it in the early 90s. 'Here We Are' is about a moment of personal love and 'Naive Me' is about the shock of realizing the unimaginable happened on June 23 / Nov 8."
Fragile launches tonight at Maureen Paley, where Wolfgang will be signing early copies (the general release is on Friday) as well as copies of limited edition magazine covers he recently collaborated on.
Text Charlotte Gush