I took the kid to the press preview of Wolfgang Tillmans' retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum the other morning; she's really good at openings and stuff, always has been. But we got there while the curators were addressing the audience in a very echo-y gallery, and I didn't want to burn up all her patience in the first ten minutes, so we cut out to raid the muffin table.
The kid also knows Tillmans' work, at least the photos we let her see; most of Tillmans' many nude photos aren't a big deal: "look! They're climbing a tree without any clothes!" "She's typing naked!" But there are a few sexually explicit ones that we definitely skip over [plus the one where the scrawny punk is pissing on a chair, which would no doubt cause a setback in our toilet training.]
Anyway, I was prepared to run interference on a few photos or even whole galleries, but the exhibition turns out to be thoroughly kid-friendly; even Kate Moss was completely dressed [our tax dollars at work, protecting us from any even hypothetically controversial content!]
Grapes gone, we strolled through the galleries, checking out pictures here and there, but one photograph completely obsessed the kid; it was of a Northern Renaissance-looking sculpture, and she kept asking me what was going on with it. I told her I had no idea, maybe she should ask Wolfgang about it.
Not ten minutes later, that's just what she did. When we went to say hi on the way out, she pipes up, "Why does that photograph over there have three noses and three mouths and three eyes?" Without missing a beat, he goes, "It's from a church in Germany; it's a sculpture of the Trinity." "What's the Trinty?" That's when I piped in to explain how it's God, Jesus, and The Holy Ghost, and that's all it took.
She's spent all the last two days asking me to tell her about the Holy Ghost again. So all these efforts to shield her from photos of mohawked hustlers plying their trade, I end up having to explain away something even more problematic: why we don't believe the Nicean Creed.
Previously at UCLA's Hammer Museum, Wolfgang Tillmans' first US retrospective runs through Aug. 17th at the Hirshhorn [si.edu]