Thursday, 27 January 2011

Thomas Demand

Demand begins his research for every new work by selecting a pre-existing photograph from various sources; the media, history books or from Demand’s own family archive. The artist usually studies the photograph for some time and he often attempts to find out who the photographer is and searches for other related images. He then builds, in his studio, a three-dimensional, life-sized model based on the photograph. Thomas Demand relies on painstaking effort, but his images appear crushingly simple. The model is made solely out of cardboard and paper. When the model is finished, Demand photographs it. The model exists only to be photographed, as it is destroyed afterward. Demand then exhibits, as his work, a large-scale photograph of the model. In the course of his practice, the artist invites us to understand what we are looking at, and in turn to become conscious of our process of understanding.

He has built and torn down alters of pop and politics, youth cultural icons, and national symbols of power and corruption.
Demand uses a large format camera to photograph his constructions before destroying them. He also films his large scale models using a special effects camera. The destruction of his work further complicates the relationship between reproduction and original that his photography investigates.
The artist, who began as a sculptor, in the past has simulated shapes and textures.  A fax machine has harsh edges to go with its box-like shape. Even then, all those piles of paper paper crammed with paper Post-Its are impressive. His photographs show hallways, with nothing more noticeable than a banister, open doors, and light switches. Some show desks or floors strewn with paper, but without a word. It also excludes people, as if the offices had suffered a sudden forced evacuation. There is a link here with Baudrillard, who takes us into a hyperreal world where models of reality dominate and reality itself has given way to simulations of the real, and eventually to simulations of simulations that have no anchor, nor interest, in the real whatsoever.

His exhibitions present large-scale photographs of paper reconstructions that, when first perceived, look like documentations of real objects and places. At first glance, his works tend to deceive the viewer. Only after a closer look, when encountering the disturbing effect of the works, does doubt arise regarding the true nature of the images.
Thomas Demand explores reality as well as unreality in his work as well as the nature of the modern image. The images themselves are all concerned with the idea of how photography can give life to the objects.

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