Total Solar Eclipse. Photographs and drawings by Wolfgang Tillmans. Galerie Daniel Buchholz adn Wolfgang Tillmans, Cologne, 1999. Unpaged [48 pp.] Tall thin quarto (12 x 8 in./30 x 20.5 cm.) Stiff printed wrappers. Color and black-and-white reproductions.
"[The] work from Wolfgang Tillmans’ ‘Total Solar Eclipse’ series may smack of [Oscar] Wilde’s ‘gutter and stars’ quotation ["We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."], but certainly there is something here (and in much of Tillmans’ imagery) that has to do with transcendence or the transformation of everyday life into something more bearable, exciting and intoxicating--so splendidly ingenuous that it has the effect of embarrassing the viewer...The photographs from the ‘Total Solar Eclipse’ series also document sightings, in this case a natural rather than man-made phenomenon. The conjunction of heavenly bodies, although now explained and predicted by rational science, still has the capacity to induce an almost Mediaeval hysteria. But Tillmans’ eclipse photographs don’t speak of a terrible and sublime force of nature, they simply record how it looks. His unpretentious snapshot aesthetic presents the experience as anything but spiritual; nonetheless, the images are mysterious because they look so matter-of-fact. The dramatic quality of the subject matter is almost cancelled out, but not quite. You often can’t tell what you are supposed to be looking at amongst the deep blue skies suffused with a strange light, silhouetted houses, glowing clouds, a choppy sea and fiery horizon, the light trails of stars taken with an unsteady hand - descriptions of luminescence."--Dale McFarland, Frieze Magazine, September-October 1999