Thomas Demand

Mar 16, 2018 – May 11, 2018
Opening: March 16, 2018, 18:30

Press release

Where is memory? There is often talk of fading, as if the images were to lose colour and then shape under the sun of the following days and years! Are photographs not currently the primary basis for our memories of personal and historical events? The images distributed in the media comprise a collective wealth of memory, even if it is now losing its shape due to information overload. Photographs now cause an extreme reduction of reality, as all senses other than vision are suppressed. It is not possible to associate any noise, smell, body or surface with the photographic reproduction of a reality. Thomas Demand approaches third-party images, most of which are already familiar to us through publications, by reproducing the situations captured in the photographs in their actual size. To achieve this, he uses paper in various thicknesses, with various surface textures and in various colours. The reconstructed situation thus provides a fragile space of memory that loses the weight of the physical and instead works with mere appearance. This initial step of transferring a photograph to a new space is substantiated through illumination, which allows the rediscovered matrix to begin to “breathe”. The camera lens is the focus on which all preparatory work concentrates. The only goal of creating this image is the reappropriated photograph in its colour and mood of lighting. Afterwards, the paper superstructures disappear.

The viewer sometimes feels that the images Thomas Demand produces are familiar without being able to say exactly why. The viewer is struck by a swathe of memories of the past, of lived moods, inapprehensible, as Marcel Proust describes in his “research” into the flavour and smell of a madeleine cake, and yet with a strong presence. In Demand’s images, fragments of memory merge into a new present. The invisible becomes visible, as no image is what it represents. The created reproduction has no physical resemblance to the actual original image whatsoever. Instead of physicality and three-dimensionality, there is a juxtaposition of coloured surfaces. Each of the colours and shapes harbours a sensation that can evoke memories. An experienced reality becomes perceptible through the act of looking. Thomas Demand’s revealing of the process behind which his images become images means that his photographs enter the consciousness differently. We, the viewers, run the risk that behind every object depicted there is something hidden, perhaps even something for which there is no equivalent in reality. Thomas Demand’s images therefore far exceed the status of a reproduction. They can also be seen as metaphors for the fragility of our imagination.

Helmut Friedel

Thomas Demand’s (Munich, 1964) solo exhibitions include shows at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (2016), DHC Art Center, Montréal (2013), National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2012), the Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (2012), Kaldor Public Arts Project #25, Sydney (2012), Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2010), Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2009), MUMOK, Vienna (2009), the Fondazione Prada, Venice (2007), the Serpentine Gallery, London (2006), the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2005), the Kunsthaus Bregenz (2004) and a survey at the Fondation Cartier in Paris (2001). He represented Germany at the 26th Sao Paulo Biennale (2004).

His most recent project was the widely acclaimed exhibition “The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied.”, with Alexander Kluge and Anna Viebrock at Fondazione Prada in Venice. His work also was included in 4 iterations of the Venice Architecture Biennale and recently featured at the 2nd Chicago Architecture Biennale.

He lives and works in Berlin and Los Angeles.