Publisher: Berlin and Göttingen, Germany: Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen and Steidl Verlag/MACK, 2009
Edition: 1st Edition
Condition: Fine / No dust jacket as issued
Item #: 112991
First English edition, first printing. Signed in black marker on the title page by Demand. Hardcover. White cloth-covered boards with title stamped in black on cover and spine; no dust jacket as issued. Photographs by Thomas Demand. Captions to the plates by Botho Strauß. Essay by Mark Godfrey. Edited and with an introduction by Udo Kittelmann. Includes an exhibition history and bibliography. Unpaginated (228 pp.), with 39 four-color plates printed on 2-page gatefolds. 11-1/2 x 11-7/8 inches. Published on the occasion of an exhibition at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin.
Thomas Demand is one of the most important and relevant contemporary artists working today. Demand's starting point is usually an image culled from the mass media, off the Internet, or a low-resolution image discovered in a newspaper or other source during his research. Oftentimes, the picture has become iconic or representative in some way of an important historical, political or cultural event. He then painstakingly creates by hand, over the course of weeks or even months, a full-size (1:1) sculptural model from colored paper and cardboard. The paper model, in which he deliberately excludes certain specific details, and emphasizes various elements and graphic forms important to the original source image, is then photographed by Demand. This photograph is the final work of art and the paper-model is then destroyed and recycled ("Grotte / Grotto, 2006" is the only existing original paper sculpture).
Demand's large-scale photographs deal with our relationship to media in general, and photography in particular. The confluence of memory, individual interpretations and readings, collective meanings associated with significant events, are all examined. His process -- from source material and research, to the meticulous sculptural interpretation, to the final photographic work -- adds to his multi-layered examination of visual representation, as well as the problematic "indexical" nature of photography.
If one strips away specificity, if the details that allow us to "read" a photograph are reduced to generic bits of unremarkable paper, is the result a denial of what photography intends? If the photograph exists to let us know who we are in space, allows us to decode the details, the light, the "specifics," then Demand turns our perceptions into chaos. In his work, Demand uses sites of historical significance -- visual sites -- and recreates them in painstaking full-size scale models using cardboard and paper. The authenticity of the historical event is suggested, through titles, yet the images are stark and lifeless as enormous vacuums of energy and perception. They are intentionally blank and soul-less, so as to capture the inadequacy of photography's ability to really "capture" historical events.
From the publisher: "Thomas Demand provokes confrontations between photography's poles of fact and fiction. True-to-size paper models are photographed and then scaled down, while traces of event and person are systematically removed, leaving phantom images of the proposed 'crime scene' that seem at once familiar and dreamlike. Demand's 2009 Nationalgalerie (Berlin) exhibition and catalogue bring together his work on German history since 1945--a scrutiny of the 'Deutschlandbild, the 'German image.' These reflections, reconstructed in photographs from a variety of scenarios in the postwar period, encourage the viewer to consider the complexity of the photographic document. Demand's representations of the social and historical are introduced not as monoliths but as places of multiple possibility, halls of mirrors in which the viewer is forced to confront--rather than be fed--potential distortions. His concern for the pliability of human memory and the play between the central and peripheral image contributes to the vibrancy of his art. For Demand, the photographer's accomplishment lies in 're-privatisating that which is constructed as a public opinion.'"