Use advanced navigation for a better experience.
You can quickly scroll through posts by pressing the above keyboard keys. Now press the button in right corner to close this window.

EXHIBITION REVIEW // THOMAS DEMAND

 
Thomas DEMAND
German 1964–
Lichtung / Clearing 2003
C-Print / Perspex
192.0 × 495.0 cm
Courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery, Sprüth Magers Berlin London, Esther Schipper, Berlin, Matthew Marks Gallery
© Thomas Demand, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn / VISCOPY, Sydney
 
 

Lynette Letic reviews Thomas Demand’s exhibition at the Ian Potter Centre, NGV Melbourne.

Working in photography, and more recently in stop-animation films, German born Thomas Demand is regarded as one of the world’s leading contemporary artists. Initially working as a sculptor, Demand merely used photography to document his works. However from 1993, his creative process took a turn and he began to build sculptures with the purpose of photographing them. Using paper and cardboard, he constructs life-size replicas of various interiors- offices, bathrooms, control rooms and more.

Thomas DEMAND German 1964– Kontrollraum / Control Room 2011 C-Print / Perspex 200.0 × 300.0 cm Courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery, Sprüth Magers Berlin London, Esther Schipper, Berlin, Matthew Marks Gallery © Thomas Demand, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn / VISCOPY, Sydney

Thomas DEMAND
German 1964–
Kontrollraum / Control Room 2011
C-Print / Perspex
200.0 × 300.0 cm
Courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery, Sprüth Magers Berlin London, Esther Schipper, Berlin, Matthew Marks Gallery
© Thomas Demand, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn / VISCOPY, Sydney

These constructed interiors evoke a sense familiarity, as we associate them with the spaces we inhabit. This intended effect of uncanny replication in turn destabilises our understanding of such spaces, and thus makes Demand’s work highly intriguing.

The artist is currently exhibiting work under a self-titled show at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. Within the gallery space, the works are spread out, each framed print or video to its own wall, leaving space for viewers to contemplate and absorb the spectacles one at a time. The exhibition encompasses 35 mm colour films, along with large-scale, framed works that steal the viewer not only with their size, but also with their highly meticulous attention to detail. For example, Grotto (2006), depicting what on first glance resembles a cavern interior, bristling with stalactites and stalagmites, is in fact a life-size construction of 900,000 individually cut pieces of cardboard. Meanwhile Lichtung/Clearing (2003) depicts a breathtaking scene where Demand has successfully recreated the impression of sunlight, filtering through seemingly natural and organic foliage.

Upon viewing the show, I conducted an interview with Susan van Wyk, the exhibition curator of the National Gallery of Victoria, to find out about the selection process and curatorial aspects of Thomas Demand.

L: When curating this exhibition, how closely did you collaborate with Thomas Demand? What was it like working with the man who has been described as ‘one of the world’s leading contemporary artists’?

S: This was very much an artist directed exhibition. Demand designed every aspect of this exhibition. He carefully planned the sequence in which you would encounter each work, setting up an interesting play between the works. In conversation during the installation, Thomas explained that he was not interested in putting together an exhibition that then toured around the world. The usual practice of curating an exhibition and then ‘fitting’ it into different exhibition spaces in a number of venues holds little interest for him. So each time you see a Thomas Demand exhibition it has been selected, designed and installed for that particular space.

How and where did you source the works for the exhibition?

The works in the exhibition were primarily drawn from a larger show that he held in Tokyo in mid-2012. The artist then added one extra work, his most recent, Vault which was brought out here from his studio in Germany.

What was your selection process?

In this case the selection of works was determined by the artist himself. We had long discussions about the spaces in which the exhibition would be installed and detailed floor plans were sent back and forth. Demand even went so far as to build a scale model of the exhibition spaces to get a sense of how the installation could be realised.

Thomas DEMAND German 1964– Badezimmer / Bathroom 1997 C-Print / Perspex 160.0 × 122.0 cm Courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery, Sprüth Magers Berlin London, Esther Schipper, Berlin, Matthew Marks Gallery © Thomas Demand, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn / VISCOPY, Sydney

Thomas DEMAND
German 1964–
Badezimmer / Bathroom 1997
C-Print / Perspex
160.0 × 122.0 cm
Courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery, Sprüth Magers Berlin London, Esther Schipper, Berlin, Matthew Marks Gallery
© Thomas Demand, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn / VISCOPY, Sydney

Did you attend In Conversation: Jeff Wall and Thomas Demand? If so, how were the discussions between the two artists? They each take a very different approach to photography with their practice, so it must have been really interesting to what they had to say.

The conversation with Thomas Demand and Jeff Wall was a remarkable event. They both offered fascinating insights, not only into their individual practices, but into the role of art and the artist. Extracts of that conversation are on the NGV website and it is worthwhile listening to what they say, they are far more eloquent than I am. *

After working on this show, you must have a breadth of knowledge on Demand’s work and a very thorough understanding of his process. What has been the most fascinating aspect of curating this exhibition?

It really is a great privilege to work with artists, I think that every day. With this project my primary role was to facilitate the artist achieving his vision for the exhibition at the NGV. So the most fascinating aspect of bringing this exhibition together would have to be spending time in the company of the artist. While he was in Melbourne I was lucky enough to have ongoing conversations with him about his ideas and his work; as well as art, films and books.

Demand’s work is highly contemporary in its process and execution. How do you see his practice as a significant contribution to photography today/the future of photography?

Demands photography is very sophisticated. He addresses a wealth of ideas about the very nature of photography. But, on a physical level it is quite straightforward. The vast scale and beautiful finish of his works masks how simple they are. Thomas Demand builds things out of paper and cardboard for the purpose of photographing them, he then lights them and photographs them. So it seems to me that he is addressing contemporary ideas and issues using a methodology that is essentially as old as the medium itself.

Currently showing at the National Gallery of Victoria until 17 March 2013, Thomas Demand is an exhibition not to be missed.

*Excerpts of the talk can be viewed here: http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/multimedia/view/?mediaid=583691

For more information about the exhibition, please visit the NGV website.

Top image:
Thomas DEMAND
German 1964–
Lichtung / Clearing 2003
C-Print / Perspex
192.0 × 495.0 cm
Courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery, Sprüth Magers Berlin London, Esther Schipper, Berlin, Matthew Marks Gallery
© Thomas Demand, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn / VISCOPY, Sydney

Lynette Letic is an emerging photographic artist based in Brisbane.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

 
Sophie Penkethman-Young 'Portrait of Phill' 2013
 

INTERVIEW // ANU STUDENTS

Belinda Kochanowska interviews ANU students in relation to their exhibition #Bombala at QCP. Set with the task of documenting the small New South Wales high-country town of Bomb[...]

 
He is fleeting, June 2013, Gemma-Rose Turnbull and Ronin
 

INTERVIEW // GEMMA-ROSE TURNBULL

Lynette Letic interviews Brisbane based photographer Gemma-Rose Turnbull in regards to her practice, recent projects and collaborations. What first attracted you to photography an[...]

 
 

EXHIBITION REVIEW // ATRAMENTOS by OSCAR MUÑOZ

A side exhibition of ARCO Madrid this year, was Atramentos by Oscar Muñoz, that explored ideas of of photographic memory without the presence of any physical photographs. Yavuz Erk[...]

small_keyboard