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Exhibitions > Current Exhibitions

Wolfgang Tillmans, Rebuilding the Future

26 October 2018 - 17 February 2019

Wolfgang Tillmans, red lake, 2002, © Wolfgang Tillmans, courtesy Maureen Paley, London

Wolfgang Tillmans (b. 1968, Remscheid, Germany) is one of the most accomplished and widely celebrated artists working today, recognised for major contributions to the development of contemporary photography in terms of subject matter, production, scale, presentation and methodology. Tillmans’ relationship with IMMA began over 20 years ago, when he first exhibited work at the museum in 1997 as part of a group exhibition of young emerging artists Projects and more recently in 2015 in the popular exhibition What We Call Love: From Surrealism to Now. This is his first solo exhibition in Ireland and he has created this exhibition specifically for the IMMA galleries. It follows his critically acclaimed solo show in  Tate Modern London in 2017.

Rebuilding the Future comprises over 100 works and captures Tillmans’ unique way of working. This new exhibition for IMMA mixes works from throughout his career and in numerous formats, installed in IMMA’s galleries in direct relation to the physical spaces and atmosphere of the museum. While primarily a lens-based artist, Tillmans also works in a variety of other media. The exhibition includes works on paper made with and without a camera, sound work, moving image works and installation. Also central to Tillmans’ practice is the prolific production of books, catalogues and magazine editorials, and more recently, live and recorded music. An immersive new sound work, I Want to Make a Film (2018), which engages with concerns over the speed and development of personal technology and its effects, is shown here at IMMA for the first time.

Rebuilding the Future includes work that is concerned with the process of time, whether it be measured through people or places. The exhibition functions as an open question for the audience to interpret. This broad range of subject matter is reflected in the variety of production and display methods seen in the exhibition. In this, as in all exhibitions produced by Tillmans, the work is selected and installed to reflect both the nature of the physical space and Tillmans’ immediate concerns at the time of the exhibition. 

About the artist  

Wolfgang Tillmans (b. Remscheid, Germany,1968) lives and works in Berlin and London. He graduated from Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design in 1992. He has won numerous awards including the Turner Prize, UK (2000), the Cultural award of the German Society for Photography (2009), the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography, Sweden (2015) and the Goslar Kaiserring Award, Germany (2018). From 2009-2014 he was an Artists Trustee on the Board of Tate, London. From 2003 to 2009 he was Professor for Interdisciplinary Art at the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main. In 2006 he opened Between Bridges, a not-for-profit exhibition space in London that now operates in Berlin.

Recent major solo exhibitions have been held at Musée d'Art Contemporain et Multimédias, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Circle Art Gallery and GoDown Arts Centre Nairob, Kenya, Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa (2018); Kunstverein in Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany, Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, Switzerland, Tate Modern, London (2017); Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2016); The National Museum of Modern Art, Osaka, Japan and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2015), Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K21 Ständehaus, Düsseldorf, Germany and 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) and Serpentine Gallery, London (2010).

His work has been included in significant survey exhibitions including the 5th Biennale of Contemporary Art of Thessaloniki, State Museum of Contemporary Art, Greece (2015), 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), 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).

Associated Events

Artist Talk / Wolfgang Tillmans, Rebuilding the Future
Presented in partnership with NCAD

Saturday 20 Oct 2018, 3.00pm (Doors open at 2.15pm) / NCAD Rupert Guinness Theatre, Dublin 8                                                                    
IMMA and NCAD are delighted to present an artist talk from internationally renowned artist Wolgang Tillmans, in advance of his much anticipated IMMA exhibition Rebuilding the Future, opening on 26 October 2018. This keynote talk from the artist will take in his most recent projects - delving deeper into the socio-political concerns that drives an expanded practice of photography, activism, publishing, performance, music and installation. Tillmans will be introduced by NCAD Director Sarah Glennie, co-curator of the IMMA exhibition. Listen back to this talk.

Curators Lunchtime Talk
Friday 9 November / 1.15-2pm / Meeting Point - IMMA Reception / Free - Drop-in
Join Benjamin Stafford, Exhibitions, IMMA, for an insightful walkthrough of the exhibition Rebuilding the Future by Wolfgang Tillmans. No need to book in advance, just come to the Meeting Point in IMMA Reception.                                                                                                                  

Keynote Response / Mark Godfrey: World View, A Survey of Tillmans Practice
Thursday 13 December / 6.00pm / Lecture Room / Booking advised

IMMA is delighted to present a keynote lecture by renowned writer and curator Mark Godfrey in response to the exhibition Wolfgang Tillmans, Rebuilding the Future. Godfrey surveys Tillmans’ distinctive approach to photography, connecting the forms of Tillmans' work to his political concerns, relating Tillmans' abstract photographs to his understanding of social and economic realities, and exploring his approach to exhibitions and publications. Tracing the significance of Tillmans’ work within the wider history of contemporary art practice, Godfrey examines ideas that inform the artist’s worldview of community, sociability, empathy and vulnerability. Booking lines will open shortly

Lecture / Colin Graham: Tillmans - Borders, Identities and Brexit
Wednesday 23 January 2019 / 6.30pm / Lecture Room / Booking advised

Taking a lead from the resistance and activism in Wolfgang Tillmans’ work on the Brexit referendum, Colin Graham considers the populist politics which seeks to re-shape our understandings of identity, freedom and citizenship. Tillmans’ art understands the ways in which fundamental changes to the post-war order are altering our ideas of what Europe can be. Colin Graham discusses how Tillmans’ campaigning art tackles this new politics head on. Booking lines will open shortly

Artist Response / David Farrell: Materiality and Photography – Wolfgang Tillmans
Sunday 27 January 2019 / 2.00pm / Main Galleries / Booking advised

Discussing a selection of works on show at IMMA, artist/photographer David Farrell presents an artist’s response on the materiality and conceptual strategies that have come to characterise the expanded field of photography practice in relation to Tillmans’ work. Drawing on his own practice and interests in people and place - Farrell shares insights into Tillmans’ pioneering methodologies to making, curating and displaying prints as whole room installations and publications. Booking lines will open shortly

Writers Response & Readings with Olivia Laing / Wolfgang Tillmans
Wednesday 6 February 2019 / 6.30pm / Lecture Room / Booking advised

Can art resist fascism? In the face of political adversity and the complexities of the digital age, award-winning writer and critic Olivia Laing responds to ideas of creativity, life, intimacy and estrangement, as it relates to Tillmans’ exhibition Rebuilding the Future. Laing will be in conversation about the intersections between the artistic, the personal and the political in both her and Tillmans’ work. Laing’s response draws on several of her books, including Crudo, a real-time novel about the apocalyptic summer of 2017, and The Lonely City, an exploration of loneliness that features David Wojnarowicz, an artist important to both Laing and Tillmans. The evening includes a specially commissioned piece responding to recent photographs by Tillmans, as well as short readings. Booking lines will open shortly

Join the IMMA Talks Mailing List to get the most up to date information sent to your email. 

Exhibition Resources

Read the Exhibition Guide.

Watch the introduction video with Wolfgang Tillmans and Rachel Thomas, Head of Exhibitions, IMMA.

Read an interview with Wolfgang Tillmans by Charles Shafaieh in the Irish Times.

Read the Media Press Release.

Resources and additional materials for this exhibition will be posted here when available. 

Supported By


Irish Museum of Modern Art, Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, D08 FW31, Ireland
Tel: +353-1-6129900, Email: