Issue 56

Thomas Demand

The cover of this issue of Artkrush is a detail from the 2000 photograph Abgang by Berlin-based photographer Thomas Demand. The piece is on view in L'Esprit d'Escalier, an overview of Demand’s work from 1995 to the present at the Irish Museum of Modern Art through June 3.

Demand sets himself apart from the dominant "Struffsky school" of German photographers — Thomas Struth, Thomas Ruff, and Andreas Gursky — with his unusual process. Although his large-scale photographs seem to capture specific places, they actually document large-scale models constructed in the artist's Berlin warehouse studio.

Born in 1964 in Munich, Germany, Demand trained as a painter and sculptor at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste München before continuing his studies at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and Goldsmiths College, London. Since his first solo show at Munich's Galerie Tanit in 1992, Demand has attained recognition rare for such a young photographer. In addition to solo shows at London's Victoria Miro and New York's 303 Gallery, he had a major 2005 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and represented Germany at the 2004 Bienal de São Paulo. The Fondazione Prada hosts an exhibition of his work from June 1 to July 7 at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice.

Demand's training is apparent in his montages of sculpture, photography, and performance art. Early in his practice, he employed photography only as a means of capturing his intricate cardboard dioramas. Realizing the tension created by combining mediums, he began photographing and then destroying his sculptures so that only the two-dimensional image remained. This process alone raises a host of questions, but Demand's subjects are of equal depth. Demand's images are familiar, recognizable from the media or normal life. He has re-created the site of Princess Diana's death, Saddam Hussein's "spider hole," and a standard staircase. By choosing places common to the collective unconscious and stripping them of inhabitants and surface detail, Demand places viewers in purgatory between the real and the fabricated. (LM)

Thomas Demand
Abgang, 2000
C-print on Diasec
61 1/2 x 98 1/2 in./ 156 x 250 cm
Courtesy Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin
© Thomas Demand; VG Bild Kunst, Bonn; and DACS, London
All Rights Reserved