Thomas Demand and the Nationalgalerie

A Conversation about the Exhibition with Hans Ulrich Obrist, Berlin 2009

This book provides information about the method, strategy and accountability of this political artist. It was Thomas Demand’s express wish to talk with Hans Ulrich Obrist about his exhibition in the Nationalgalerie Berlin in Autumn 2009.

‘This extensive solo show (18 September – 17 January 2010) is taken up by one of the most important themes in the artist’s richly diverse body of work: Germany. The 40 or so works on display deal with social and historical events that have taken place in Germany, predominantly since 1945.

It is no coincidence therefore that the exhibition also coincides with the anniversaries of two pivotal historical events in German history: the foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany 60 years ago and the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago.

Thomas Demand’s art transcends the generic constraints of the photographic medium. The artist (born in Munich in 1962) often culls his subjects from reports in the mass media, using them as the starting point to create expansive sculptures out of paper and cardboard which transpose the two-dimensional original into three-dimensional form.

The artist then photographs these spatial (re)constructions made out of paper with a large format camera, before ultimately destroying them. Direct human activity, finer details and figures captured on film are not transferred from the original photographs into the life-size sculptures. What remains are phantom images of ‘crime scenes’ of missing events which often appear just as familiar to us as they are impalpable.

English and German text.

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