On ViewMuseum of Modern Art
September 12, 2022 – January 1, 2023
From 2018 to 2019, the Rail published a column titled “1 by 1,” edited by Thyrza Nichols Goodeve, featuring original writing on singular works of art. On the occasion of Wolfgang Tillmans’s retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, To look without fear, we felt compelled to revive the section.
Faced with such an extraordinary breadth of images, we adapted the column’s constraints to encourage each writer to sit with one of hundreds of photos in the exhibition. The fourteen contributors gathered here—critics, poets, and artists—were asked to produce no more than five-hundred words on a photo of their choosing. The resulting texts, including a piece by Tillmans himself, span the length of his career and address the numerous genres of his work.
For some, Tillmans’s photos become sites for speculation. For others, they act more like talismans, evoke nostalgia, and inspire new fictions. In this installation there is room for everyone to experience intimacy, and these responses reveal how each contributor accesses that intimacy through the act of looking. We hope that by writing through these images, bouncing against their surfaces, we can build a collective sense of the work, a harnessing of the magic that occurs at the edge of interpretation.
–Louis Block and Jorja Rae Willis