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Wolfgang Tillmans

I Didn't Inhale
07 June – 03 August 1997


I Didn’t Inhale is an exhibition of new and previously unseen photographs. It has been installed by Tillmans in a way that subverts the categories consigned to photography. Tillmans uses a fresh, unabashed approach to the traditional genres of still-life, landscape and portraiture. With a keen understanding of the codes of visual culture, he creates an exhibition that has the power to both surprise and engage its audience.

Working collaboratively with the people he photographs, Tillmans creates, “an atmosphere of possibility…getting people in front of a camera into a mode where on the one hand they can loose some of their inhibitions, whilst remaining aware of the process of which they are a part”. For this exhibition the artist selected and staged a version of the world in which he would like to live in.


Wolfgang Tillmans (b. 1968, Remscheid, Germany) lives and works in Berlin and London. He has exhibited extensively across the world and in 2017 has major solo exhibitions at Tate Modern, London, UK; Foundation Beyeler, Riehen, Switzerland and Kunstverein Hamburg, Germany. Other solo shows include Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto (2016); Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2015); Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K21 Ständehaus, Düsseldorf, Germany, Les Rencontres d'Arles, France and Museo de Arte de Lima (2013); Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Brazil and Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2012); Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland (2011); Serpentine Gallery, London and the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK (2010). His work has been included in significant group exhibitions including Manifesta 10, The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia (2014), Fundamentals, the 14th International Architecture Biennale directed by Rem Koolhaas, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy (2014); the Berlin Biennale, Germany (2014, 1998), the British Art Show 5 and 7, UK (2000, 2010); the 3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Russia (2009) and the 51st and 53rd Venice Biennale, Italy (2005, 2009). In 2016, he launched a pro-European Union poster campaign in response to the British referendum.  He continues to run Between Bridges, a non-profit exhibition space that opened in London in 2006, relocating to Berlin in 2013. Tillmans was awarded the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography in 2015, the Kulturpreis der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Photographie in 2009, and the Turner Prize in 2000, the first photographer and non-British artist to receive the award. In 2013 he became a Royal Academician, and between 2009 and 2014 he served as a Tate trustee. 

I didn’t inhale marked a definitive moment in Tillmans’ career, catalysing his rise to prominence in the late 1990s and predating his Turner Prize success in 2000. Since his Chisenhale Gallery exhibition, Tillmans has continued to make work that challenges the photographic canon, combining sculpture, sound, video, performance and curatorial projects. Drawing on his critical engagement with social issues, Tillmans’ work portrays both intimacy and political urgency. 

Click here for the accompaning publication to this exhibtion in the shop.



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