Photographer, artist and activist Wolfgang Tillmans speaks candidly about being HIV positive


Photographer, artist and activist Wolfgang Tillmans has spoken openly about the severe impact HIV has had on both his professional and personal life.

Tillmans, who opened his first ever exhibition at Tate Modern earlier this year, also spoke candidly about the tragic death of his boyfriend.

“I found out, I myself am HIV positive, but I never made that an active subject in my work,” he said in an interview with SHOWStudio’s Lou Stoppard. “People are so scared of aids, they think that everything in the world is foreshadowing this.”

“HIV impacted my life from the first day of experiencing having sex,” Tillmans said. “Of course, it affected me when my boyfriend, my love of my life suddenly died of it. At the time therapy was possible, but he found out too late.”

Jochen Klein, who was a German painter, died from an AIDS-related complication in 1997.

But Tillmans’ relationship with HIV has always been, quite understandably, one fraught with tension as the 48-year-old explained the after feeling of having sex with a man when he was 16.

“I had a swollen gland, but of course I was just being a hypochondriac,” he said. “AIDS has always been in my life,” he added. “I’m aware of the fragility of life.”