Fragile, Wolfgang Tillmans' first exhibition in Africa

Wolfgang Tillmans, Herman Verwey,

Johannesburg, South Africa,

Exhibitions, Gallery,


After the stages in Kinshasa and Nairobi, the new travelling exhibition Fragile, exhibiting works by German artist Wolfgang Tillmans, opened on 8 July 2018 at the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG).

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Fragile, Wolfgang Tillmans' first exhibition in Africa After the stages in Kinshasa and Nairobi, the new travelling exhibition Fragile, exhibiting works by German artist Wolfgang Tillmans, opened on 8 July 2018 at the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG). Presented by ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) in collaboration with Wolfgang Tillmans and the Goethe-Institut, Fragile will be touring a number of African cities over the coming years.

The exhibition Fragile opened in Johannesburg, South Africa on Sunday 8 July with the artist in attendance; it showcases a complete overview of the work of Wolfgang Tillmans, who lives and works in Berlin and London, the first photographer to win the famous Turner Prize in 2000. 
Exhibited in the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) that boasts a collection of 9000-plus artworks spread across 15 exhibition rooms and sculpture gardens, the Fragile exhibition comprises more than 200 works created by Tillmans from 1986 to 2017. It includes prints in various formats, sculptural objects, video projections and numerous publication projects. The JAG was completed in 1915 and it has the largest public collection of modern and contemporary art on the subcontinent of Africa. It is the epicentre of art in Johannesburg and this exhibition was installed in collaboration with the artist himself. This means the exhibition responds to the exhibition space to give visitors a full, enjoyable experience, just like in the previous venues in Kinshasa and Nairobi. 
The exhibition catalogue published in English and French is also part of this philosophy of localisation, complemented by a local contribution at each venue. The authors are Christine Eyene, N’Goné Fall, Bart van der Heide and Ashraf Jamal, as well as Khwezi Gule and Neo Muyanga for the Johannesburg edition.
Wolfgang Tillmans's artistic work is based on his never-ceasing curiosity, his intensive research in preparation, and a constant dealing with the medium of photography and its technical and aesthetic potential. His visual language derives from a precise observation that reveals a deeply human approach to our environment. Familiarity and empathy, as well as friendship, community and intimacy are visible and tangible in his pictures.
For Tillmans, acceptance of the fragility that determines us as individuals and that plays into our relations with each other is not a weakness, it is a great strength and it can be used as an impulse to develop new processes. In the photos selected for the Fragile exhibition, the photographer explores the imperfect nature of our lives with new, unprecedented perspectives that highlight precious moments in life and the meaning of social and family ties, particularly at times of social and political instability.
Issues that are close to Wolfgang Tillmans' heart. He recently worked with the architects Rem Koolhaas and Stephan Petermann on Eurolab, an initiative as part of the second Forum on European culture that took place in Amsterdam. During a four-day programme of workshops and interview sessions, the participants explored new ideas to communicate the EU at a highly fragile time for its institutions, with a view to the European elections in May 2019.
The exhibition Fragile in Johannesburg is the result of the collaboration of Wolfgang Tillmans with ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen), the oldest German intermediary organisation for international cultural relations, whose mission is to foster peaceful, meaningful cooperation between civil societies and cultures from around the world, the Goethe-Institut in Johannesburg and JAG along with the Friends of JAG associations; it will run until 30 September 2018.

Christiane Bürklein

Exhibition Fragile
from 8 July to 30 September 2018
Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
Images: © Wolfgang Tillmans - Images of the exhibition by Herman Verwey 
Find out more: https://www.ifa.de/en/tillmans