we talk to wolfgang tillmans as he brings his book for architects to the met

The photographer’s installation is on view at the Metropolitan Museum for the first time since its debut at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale.

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Jan 30 2015, 12:40am

German photographer and i-D contributor Wolfgang Tillmans spent over 10 years photographing buildings in thirty-seven countries on five continents, compiling over 450 of these images as an installation titled Book for Architects. Presented as a site-specific, two-channel video installation, Book for Architects invites viewers to intimately experience global architecture through the artist's lens. Book for Architects' particular magic lies in that many of the buildings are largely anonymous--not recognizable as landmarks. In this way, Tillmans' survey becomes more about exploring the ideas of urban places and spaces than what the buildings themselves mean. i-D caught up with Tillmans as Book for Architects opened at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the first time it's been installed since its debut at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Book for Architects, 2014. Due video-installazioni dove ogni immagine varia di dimensione. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York, Maureen Paley, London, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris, Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin

Book for Architects was shot over 10 years in thirty-seven countries on five continents. Where do you feel most at home?

I'm in the lucky position of not having to choose between London and Berlin. I live in both, currently spending more time in Berlin and less in London. But over 25 years, I've spent most of my adult life in London. Recently, I feel very inspired by New York, and I hope to spend more time here this year.

Over those 10 years, how did you see landscapes change?
What's happening in architecture right now is pretty bleak. I'm not a pessimist by nature. By travelling I was struck by how similar the strategies behind most new buildings are. Businesses and urban constructions in general are basically huge IKEA shelves clad with thin facades of glass or some pseudo-artsy color scheme. Apartments and standalone homes, on a global scale, have almost entirely left behind the ideals of modernism, and now it's about having a McMansion or a faux Neo Classic look to express some kind of stateliness.

Book for Architects, 2014. Due video-installazioni dove ogni immagine varia di dimensione. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York, Maureen Paley, London, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris, Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin

I'm curious to know which area most surprised you, and why?
The Sydney Opera House was a complete surprise because even though I had seen hundreds of pictures of it during my lifetime, not one was showing it close-up. Visiting it, I was amazed by the beautiful textures of the outside tiles and the inside concrete details.

What was the intention behind the installation component of Book for Architects?
Why exhibit the photographs in a dual channel video rather than a gallery show or bound book?It became clear that this project also has to do with numbers and depth - it's not just 20 key images, but about 500. It would be almost impossible to fit them into any space as printed photographs.

I was lucky to have discovered these new 4K projectors which allow still image projection in unprecedented quality. This way I can use the two perpendicular screens like two walls on which I make a spatial installation with several images in different sizes, just like I do in other exhibitions with prints. 

Book for Architects runs until July 5, 2015. More information here

davidzwirner.com/artists/wolfgang-tillmans

Credits


Text Emily Manning
Images courtesy David Zwirner, New York, Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin, and Maureen Paley, London
Book for Architects, 2014. Two channel video installation. Book for Architects installed as part of the 14th International Architecture Biennale: Elements of Architecture at the Central Pavilion, Giardini, Venice, 2014