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Like Praying I and II
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More about Like Praying I and II

ebrowne's picture

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Like Praying I and II by Wolfgang Tillmans depicts two people in various states of undress in positions that are, as the title indicates, like praying...but not quite.

Tillmans often takes photographs of his friends in states of vulnerability, toughness, happiness (which is often at the hand of ecstasy), and sadness. They are records of our world as it evolves in terms of its attitude toward sex, gender, and general societal constructs. He describes his models, whether they are friends or not, as “accomplices” and considers them equals in the collaborative process between photographer and subject. Two of these “accomplices,” who were photographed the most were his best friends, Lutz and Alex. They acted for an entire series as accessories to Tillmans’ craft. Jealous. If Tillmans asked me to be his accomplice, in art or even crime for that matter, I’d hop on the opportunity so fast it would make your head spin.

These particular “accomplices” in Like Praying I and II are communicating via body language that they are either in a meditative state of praying or a highly anxious state of panic. It really could go either way. The fact that one of them is clothed and another is completely naked only seems to complicate the message of the work. The title is also a point of confusion. The words “like praying” seem to want to be followed by the words, “but different.” They are almost certainly not in any sort of house of worship, not that that’s necessary for someone to pray. Also I know of no houses of worship that would allow their congregation to show up unclothed. But that may just be my stiff Catholic upbringing showing. All in all, we have to just scratch our heads and make our decision for ourselves. I guess if this were straightforward stuff, then Tillmans would have never won the Turner Prize in 2000. No one ever wins that kind of stuff being obvious. 

Sources

Sources

  1. "Like Praying, II." Guggenheim. N.p., 2018. Web. 17 Oct. 2018. https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/9633
  2. "Like Praying I And II | LACMA Collections." Collections.lacma.org. N.p., 2018. Web. 17 Oct. 2018. https://collections.lacma.org/node/198916
  3. Witt, Emily. "The Life And Art Of Wolfgang Tillmans." The New Yorker. N.p., 2018. Web. 17 Oct. 2018. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/09/10/the-life-and-art-of-wolfga...