Art & Photography / AnOther Thing I Wanted to Tell You

Wolfgang Tillmans on the Spectacle of a Total Solar Eclipse

The artist – who will unveil his latest exhibit, PCR, at the David Zwirner gallery in New York tomorrow – reflects on the evocative natural phenomenon

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Self-portrait, 20.3.2015Photography by Wolfgang Tillmans

“The fifth solar eclipse that I saw was on the Faroe Islands. If you stood in position up on a hill, you could see the shadow arrive, travelling at the speed of an aeroplane. You could look down the horizon and then it came in a ‘whoosh’ right over you, like in the movie, Independence Day. Suddenly there is the corona in the sky; this ring of ice-cold fire. You see stars and planets and black sky. The horizon has an eerie, very dark, dusky light. It’s totally shocking because it’s so powerful; something that comes from outside this planet and touches you. And then after three minutes it’s all over and it’s daylight again. I think there is something very consoling in feeling lost in space but also feeling grounded, and seeing that all of this is part of a bigger clockwork. It’s all embedded in this endlessness. I experienced that not as something scary but as something comforting.”

"I think there is something very consoling in feeling lost in space but also feeling grounded, and seeing that all of this is part of a bigger clockwork" – Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans is an artist who surpasses his medium, transforming the photographic image into something that stills time, expressing inner and outer experience. Following a huge summer retrospective in Japan, he is exhibiting new work for his fi rst show with David Zwirner gallery in New York until mid-October. Tillmans fell in love with astronomy at age ten, when he stumbled on a book in his parents’ library. He describes it as the foundation of his vision: the questioning, the accuracy, the sense of detail. He has seen five solar eclipses (most recently this past spring in the Faroe Islands, where this photo was taken), and looks forward to the 2017 solar eclipse that will cross the USA.

This article appears in the A/W15 edition of AnOther Magazine.

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