The launch of new work by Wolfgang Tillmans is met with considerable anticipation. So it was fun to watch art and fashion types wandering the narrow paths around Bethnal Green tube station with map in hand last night, searching for the tiny street in London's East end where Maureen Paley's gallery is located.
The show, his first since 2005 and sixth at Maureen Paley, offers the combination of photographic prints, ink jets and photocopies that are the German photographers' hallmark. Notable is the increasing emphasis on photographic objecthood: particularly the folded, cameraless photographs that make up the 'Lighter' series. Displayed in shallow perspex vitrines on the wall, these introduced an element of fetish and print connoisseurship that felt strange and exciting inside his usual curatorial approach.
The accompanying press release states that 'observational' videos shown separately upstairs "follow a logic established through exhibitions of Tillmans' photographs, emphasising the connections and disjunctions between each piece". Whilst this is definitely true (this lush motion study of a digital printer is gloriously captivating), the show left me wondering about the reverse. With the current upsurge in creating short films stimulated by Web 2.0, a field that is often lacking in critical discussion or evaluation, might the experimental photographic exhibition format help us make sense of the logic that underpins this enthusiastic, often undirected glut in film production?