With your year long Carla subscription, you will receive a new issue right to your doorstep every 3 months.
Our advertising program is essential to the ecology of our publication. Ad fees go directly to paying writers, which we do according to W.A.G.E. standards.
We are currently printing runs of 6,000 every three months. Our publication is distributed locally through galleries and art related businesses, providing a direct outlet to reaching a specific demographic with art related interests and concerns.
To advertise or for more information on rates, deadlines, and production specifications, please contact us at email@example.com
What do I do with my Wolfgang Tillmans poster now? They were giving them out for free at Regen Projects, and I obligingly took one. It features a black–and-white photo of a
crashing wave—it’s almost painterly—and on the bottom the following message: “Only The Americans Have The Power To Stop Trump.” It seemed self-evident at the time of the press preview, less than a week before the election, that yes, of course, the Americans held that power and would soon exercise it to pick the unpopular, hawkish neoliberal who was not half as monstrous as the monster we were told to stop. But Tillmans’ admonition turned out not to be, strictly speaking, true. The Americans, or anyway the 57 percent of eligible voters who took a look at this race and thought it was worth picking sides, didn’t, from a majoritarian perspective, really have that power.
Of course we’d all seen this once before, and maybe Tillmans should have picked a safer, verified slogan: “Only The Americans Have The Power To Stop Salavdor Allende, Jacobo Árbenz, Patrice Lumumba; Only The Americans Have The Power To Institute Regime Change And Interfere In Democratic Elections On A Global Scale.” That sounds more like the Americans I know.
The obvious question about the Tillmans poster is to what extent he considered how it would read in the event of a Trump victory. There is, to be sure, something encouraging in its now-altered meaning—the idea that stopping Trump is something we still might have the power to do. But whatever stopping means outside of the limits of electoral politics, it certainly entails, to some extent, a shift from a practical to a symbolic register. That wave starts to look like an irresistible force. But whose? Which?
Glossed in the press release as “visual metaphors evoking the seminal ‘sea changes’ in our contemporary global society,” waves, sea foam, and Atlantic horizons were the subjects of a few photographs in the show. Precisely which sea changes Tillmans had in mind is harder to dis- cern from the photographs, though they certainly speak to a kind of globality—through a panorama of details and episodes that all seem to be somewhere else, or nowhere in particular. In street scenes, landscapes, apartment interiors, and shots out of windows, Tillmans somehow conveys this sense of both anywhere and just right there. He is a master of evocation, and his photos hinge on the play of specificity and generality, the banal and the sublime. From small snap-shot-sized prints to large-scale works, there were casual portraits and even more casual still lifes—a universe of intimacies and details. Interspersed throughout were a number of large abstractions, including several from his Freischwimmer/Greifbar series in which he exposes color photo paper to create the effect of roiling fluids and streaking filaments.
Tillmans presents a fundamentally liberal vision of the world—in both the political and economic senses of the word—one of freely moving people and goods. What are those seascapes and liquid abstractions but an image of the flows of capital and commodities, the flight of refugees? And it is precisely that movement that now stands threatened by the rise of the anti-immigrant barbarism and economic protectionism of Brexit and Trump.
Throughout the gallery, Tillmans had also installed the latest iteration of his Truth Study Center, a project initiated in 2005. It consisted here of wooden tables displaying print-outs of articles accessed online, occasional snap- shots, and a variety of short statements printed in large type on printer paper. The articles all dealt with “truthiness” or “post-truth” politics. There has been, of course, quite a bit of handwringing over the subject, and one couldn’t help but feel that Tillmans was playing it against the legacy of the critical obsession with photography and truth. How naïve we must have been to go on that way about indexicality and truth claims. Now we’ve seen what the construction of truth looks like when put to use by the forces of reaction.
Of the statements that appeared throughout the Truth Study Center, the most prominent were a series of simple declarations measuring distances in time, sometimes explicitly identified with world-historical events. “The beginning of the Iraq War in 2003 was 30 years away from the Yom Kippur War. 30 years before that Italy had declared war on Germany.” It’s a glimpse of history stripped of interpretation: at least we can agree these things are true. But of course that’s a red herring; there is little about the Iraq War, about any of these wars, that is easy or unequivocal. It is a reminder, perhaps, that both truth and power are always contingent. “8 Years ago was the year 2008,” reads another printout. “8 years after now will be the year 2024.” Who knows? Maybe the Americans will surprise us. Or maybe we’ll all be underwater.
This review was originally published in Carla issue 7.