Artist Wolfgang Tillmans’s off-space Between Bridges moved to Berlin in January 2014 after five years in Bethnal Green, London. Its new home is a domestic space on Keithstraße that has most recently been devoted to exhibitions that, in Tillmans’s words, “aim to provide a dedicated space for the playback of recorded music.”
Unlike the first installment — a survey of the limelight-shirking band Colourbox, including records, printed posters and a mix CD — “American Producers” consists solely of an hour-and-a-half-long audio program. Chosen with the input of DJs, producers and artists whose e-mail correspondences with Tillmans are excerpted in the show’s press materials, some selections are major hits — Michael Jackson, Beyoncé — while others have experienced their own moments of ubiquity within certain circles, particularly the show’slikely audience. Producers with art-world cache who have been catapulted into mainstream fame — Arca, Kingdom and Nguzunguzu — are included. An ancillary qualification seems to be a sonic range wide enough to take full advantage of the astounding Bowers & Wilkins stereo sound system, which, at the risk of writing advertising copy, isn’t heard so much as it is felt.
Production, reproduction and presentation are longstanding fixations for Tillmans, which helped fostered his early refusal to frame his photographs; his pioneering experimentation in the darkroom; and, despite initial reluctance, his more recent teasing of the technological boundaries of the digital camera. Whether eliminating the glass between viewer and photograph or imaging the interior of a chromogenic printer, Tillmans has consistently sought to reveal something about how media is created and consumed. “American Producers” is in Tillmans’s eyes an art show — he decries the division between art and music in the show’s press text, along with the miserable, clipped-quality audio that we all seem to accept from YouTube and our laptop speakers. Whatever “American Producers” is, it’s supremely satisfying. When seen as another tributary of Tillmans’s research into fidelity and mediation, the show does take on the quality of art: a fugue-like refrain of the artist over the past twenty years: that reproducible things are still experienced singularly.
by Patrick Armstrong