Wolfgang Tillmans on his set design for the ENO’s War Requiem

Turner Prize-winning artist Wolfgang Tillmans is making his debut as a set designer this month, for a new production of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem at the ENO in London. We talk to him about the project

Wolfgang Tillmans is the first to admit that he is not a “huge opera person at all”. In fact those familiar with his work are more likely to associate him with techno and the rave scene, through his candid photographs taken in clubs in the 1990s and his own work as a producer, which has recently seen him collaborate with Frank Ocean.

So he makes for an intriguing choice for the English National Opera in London to approach as a set designer for its new production of War Requiem, which opened last Friday and runs until December 7.

Tillmans was initially drawn to the subject matter – Britten’s choral work features the anti-war poetry of Wilfred Owen and is described by the ENO as “a passionate outcry against man’s inhumanity to man” – plus the fact that the artist had recently created a major sound and video installation for Tate Modern made the proposition timely.

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