Solo show. The artist has said of his work ''I'm combining a painter's and sculptor's concerns in a third medium photography''. He begins with an image, usually although not exclusively, taken from a photograph culled from the media, which he reinterprets into a three-dimensional life-size model made from coloured card and paper.
The Victoria Miro Gallery presents recent works by Thomas Demand. The exhibition will feature approximately five large-scale photographic works and the London premier of his most recent film Trick (2004). His critically acclaimed solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, is the first one man show in the newly re-opened space and continues until 30 May 2005.
Thomas Demand has said of his work â€œIâ€™m combining a painterâ€™s and sculptorâ€™s concerns in a third medium photographyâ€. He begins with an image, usually although not exclusively, taken from a photograph culled from the media, which he reinterprets into a three-dimensional life-size model made from coloured card and paper. These models are photographed with a large-format-camera and the resulting photographs displayed unframed behind Plexiglas. Once they have been photographed the models are destroyed. His meticulous craftsmanship means that the photographs often look at first glance like real places. In her MoMA catalogue essay Roxana Marcoci observed, â€œâ€¦despite their illusionism, Demandâ€™s staged tableaux reveal the mechanisms of their making. Minute imperfections â€“ a pencil mark here, an exposed edge there, and a wrinkle in the paper â€“ are deliberately left visible. The lack of detail and cool, uniform lighting expose the whole as a construction. â€¦The resulting pictures are convincingly real and strangely artificialâ€.
Free from human presence, the spaces Demand represents are often historically loaded, although he offers few markers for interpretation. In the works exhibited at the Victoria Miro Gallery Demand refers to the media coverage of powerful current events. The titles of works such as Gate (2004), Kitchen (2004) and Attempt (2005) sound benign but they provide a neutral front for politically charged subjects. In his most recent work Attempt Demand has reconstructed from photographs the studio of an artist whom Baader-Meinhof terrorists targeted in the 1970s in order to blow up the house of the stateâ€™s prosecutor next door. Gate is perhaps one of the most direct of Demandâ€™s recent interpretations of the role of the image between reportage, document and its concurrent mystification. Taken from the perspective of a surveillance camera, it shows the customary objects of airport security: the empty runs, trays, rollers, tables and xâ€“ray machines, a non-space intended to process people on their journey. In Kitchen Demand depicts a scruffy kitchen filled with pots, pans and plastic utensils that is taken from a media photograph of former Iraqi leader Saddam Husseinâ€™s hideaway where he took refuge during the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. As in Gate and Attempt this almost trivial space turns out be a coded representation of a political incident, or as the critic Neville Wakefield recently observed, Demand â€œproposes prosaic architecture as silent witness to the pathologies of social disturbanceâ€.
Trick (2004), the artistâ€™s latest 35mm film, refers back to the beginnings of cinema and is based on one of the first films of the LumiÃ¨re brothers, Assiettes tournantes (Turning Plates) of 1896. Demandâ€™s Trick re-creates a sequence in which a performer executes a stunt by spinning a set of bowls and plates on a tabletop. As in his photographs Demand enhances the artifice of the illusion by presenting the spinning dishes in the absence of a performer.
Born in 1964, Demand began as a sculptor and took up photography to record his ephemeral paper constructions. In 1993 he began making constructions for the sole purpose of photographing them. He studied sculpture at the Kunstakademie DÃ¼sseldorf from 1989 to 1992 and took an MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College from 1993 to 1994. His exhibition continues at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, until 30 May 2005. Recent solo exhibitions include the German Pavillion, 26th SÃ£o Paulo Biennial and Phototrophy, Kunsthaus Bregenz. in 2004, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek and Lenbachhaus, Munich in 2003 and 2002 and the Fondation Cartier pour lâ€™Art Contemporain, Paris in 2001. Current publications include Thomas Demand, Museum of Modern Art, New York with text by Roxana Marcoci and a short story by Jeffrey Egendides and Phototrophy, Kunsthaus Bregenz with essays by Ralph Rugoff and Julia Franck.
Victoria Miro Gallery
16 Wharf Road - London
Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 6pm, admission free