-> Works in the Exhibition
Thomas Demand builds models. This can still be readily seen at first glance in a photograph from 1944. Scarcely anyone would think the Fabrik (Factory) there were a real building. The walls look to smooth and uniform, the lighting seems too glaring to come from natural sunlight, since then the sky would have to be blue.
The Fabrik is an architectural model that Demand, trained as a sculptor, produced and then photographed. The picture presents the model in a view slightly from below, as is common in modern architectural photography so as to underscore the size and dynamics of buildings. It seems like a generalized representation of the factory, like a minimal illustration of the term in a dictionary or a language-learning book. “This is not a factory”, the viewer might be inclined to say, thinking of René Magritte’s pun with words and picture. The picture, which is devoid of human beings and foregoes the depiction of details, is reminiscent of scenes from de Chirico’s paintings or from the works of the New Objectivity of the 1920s, where no smoke rises from factory chimneys.
In his student years Demand was unavoidably socialized in industrial photography in the tradition of the New Objectivity as it was cultivated and taught by Bernd and Hilla Becher at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, though he never actually attended Bernd Becher’s classes, instead studying sculpture with Fritz Schwegler.
Demand never shows the model itself, but only photographs of it, on the basis of which, as in the case of Fabrik, the underlying scale of the model cannot be reconstructed. In most cases, once the models have been photographed, they are destroyed.
Another photograph shows a jumble of objects on a desk: a typewriter, a white ashtray, a yellow coffee cup, notes, letter envelopes, a blue box. Then there is the difficulty of describing the things more closely. Thus further rectangular objects lie on the desk, but they are not reproduced in sufficient detail to make them out clearly, as for instance books or video cassettes. The whole arrangement exudes an artificial atmosphere; the lack of detail makes the things look almost like colored building blocks.
Detail II (1996) is one of several separate works that present sections from the series Room, which show the spatial surroundings of the desk – for instance, a bed in the foreground, covered by several scattered boxes.
Demand has taken over this disorder from a photograph of a New York hotel room where the science-fiction writer and founder of the Scientology sect, Ron L. Hubbard, lived from 1972 to 1973, working on the development of his theory of dianetics.
Most of the models that Demand has made since then, and that he photographs or has photographed after they are finished, are based on television or press pictures, or images of places found on the Internet that have to do with events disseminated by the media. One of the best known and most discussed of these pictures is the source for Badezimmer [Bathroom], 1997, which alludes to the death of Uwe Barschel. The perspective and image detail of the bathtub correspond exactly to those of the photograph which became known round the world – only that Demand has omitted Barschel’s corpse and all other visible traces and mess that could point to a possible crime.
Catalog excerpt "Extended. Sammlung Landesbank Baden-Württemberg"
Editors: Lutz Casper, Gregor Jansen, published by Kehrer Verlag Heidelberg, 2009
120 x 185 cm
150 x 205 cm
175 x 437 cm
122 x 160 cm
152 x 290 cm
166 x 190 cm