Memory on Display
The Paper Illusions of Thomas Demand
He had his first solo show in 1991. Fourteen years later a retrospective of his work is on display in the MoMA. One of his pieces, »Oval Office«, was commissioned for the cover of the New York Times Magazine. Today, collectors are on waiting lists to buy his photographs: Thomas Demand, internationally acclaimed as a photographer - but not a usual one.
He takes photographs of life-sized models, mostly recreations of specific places, which he builds out of pasteboard and paper. The viewer recognises well-known scenes which have become part of our common visual consciousness. Like »Bathroom«, a reconstruction of the bath tub where the body of German politician Uwe Barschel was found, or the devastated room in the Wolf’s Lair that Hitler left just before a bomb detonated. The objects in »Kitchen« tell complete dramas: the matches the fallen tyrant Saddam Hussein used to warm his coffee in his rabbit hole while a war raged outside. As much as Demand reduces the images to a few necessary details, the viewer develops his own fantasy as opposed to the all too familiar media images. Whether referring to political or social events or simply owing to the beauty of nature, all his works never fail in their effect. Demand’s exhibition at the Berlin National Gallery 2009/10 provides the framework for this film.