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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > 281 > LIFE THROUGH A LENS

LIFE THROUGH A LENS

AN OUT GAY MAN WHO WON THE TURNER PRIZE, WOLFGANG TILLMANS HAS A NEW SHOW AT TATE MODERN. HE TELLS ATTITUDE ABOUT HIS WORK AS A PHOTOGRAPHER AND DJ — AND EXPRESSES HIS WORRIES ABOUT THE STATE OF THE WORLD
Wolfgang Tillmans, Tukan (2010) © Wolfgang Tillmans

IT’S THE EARLY HOURS of New Year’s Eve when I first meet Wolfgang Tillmans in Berghain, the Berlin club renowned as the city’s spiritual home for creatures of the night.

I’m here to experience Tillmans’ debut DJ set at the mammoth former power station, where he’s playing the main floor. You couldn’t imagine a more typically Berlin crowd: handsome, chiselled, blond boys dance to his tune alongside bearded hipsters and techno Goths. His choice of music fuses techno with innovative sounds that give the usually tough and rough main room a more energised, funkedup edge. The audience offer a deserved round of applause after the set. We meet again the following evening when I pick him up en route for a return visit to Berghain (it’s like that coffee shop in Friends, us gays just love to hang out there). This time we’re here to party. Turner Prize-winning artists need to shack out on the danceloor, too.

Once the disco dust has settled and the hangovers have subsided, we finally meet for our interview at his vast Kreuzberg studio. Tillmans has made Berlin his on-off base for the past 10 years or so, and in a more fulltime capacity since he moved his exhibition space Between Bridges from London in 2011. When it comes to cultural edge, there are few cities more renowned for raising the bar. Did he feel the pressure to deliver when he took to the decks at the city’s most (in)famous club? “Berghain is a fantastic challenge, let’s call it that,” he says.

“It has to be good, it cannot be bad. Especially with me being known for being good in another area.” Making music is not as extreme a departure for Tillmans as you might initially think. His reputation is grounded in photography, but he has had a passion for sound for as long as he’s been taking pictures, as epitomised by last year’s EP release, 2016/1986, which combines original productions from 1986 with newer tracks. DJing is a more recent thing.

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About Attitude

On the cover, Emma Watson and Dan Stevens discuss the gay surprise in the new Beauty and the Beast Also, exclusive interviews with Joan Collins on her new film The Time of Their Lives, Alison Goldfrapp in her most honest interview yet, and BBC news reporter James Longman on life on the frontline. Plus, Turner Prize winning artist Wolfgang Tillmans and ballet’s bad boy Sergei Polunin.
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