The work of Thomas Demand (b. 1964) may, at first glance, appear to show empty, mundane interiors. Don’t be fooled. These are, in fact, highly politically charged locations that have been painstakingly re-staged in paper and cardboard using found photographs as a guide. Room (Zimmer) (1996), for exam- ple, is inspired by photographs of the hotel room in which Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard developed his theory of Dianetics, whilst Kitchen (2004) is based on shots taken by soldiers of the compound in Tikrit where Sadam Hussein was captured. Over the years, Demand has crafted a unique compositional process that is both Constructivist and Deconstructionist – exploring the life cycles of models and their synchronisation or juxtaposition with reality. Once the artist photographs these impressively realistic-looking sets with a large format camera, he destroys them, leaving only the still image in its place.
French philosopher Jacques Rancière describes these compositions as “mirrors” – leading to the title of Demand’s first show in Russia. Mirror Without Memory is spread across two floors, bringing together pieces from 1991 to 2021. Curator Katya Inozemtseva expands: “The various combinations of the exhibition become part of a lengthy process of seeking, selecting, constructing / cutting and photographing objects, imparting a specific sense of temporariness that merges with other ‘temporarinesses’: our unreliable memory, the washing out of pictures from the first pages of search engines and their immersion into an endless digital archive of images ‘on demand.’”
Garage Museum, Moscow | Until 30 January
1. Thomas Demand, Repository, 2018. C-Print/Diasec. Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York and Los Angeles; Esther Schipper Galerie, Berlin; Galerie Sprüth Magers, London, Berlin, and Los Angeles; Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo. © Thomas Demand, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/UPRAVIS, Moscow.
2. Thomas Demand, Diamond Princess, 2020. C-Print/Diasec. Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York and Los Angeles; Esther Schipper Galerie, Berlin; Galerie Sprüth Magers, London, Berlin, and Los Angeles; Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo © Thomas Demand, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/UPRAVIS, Moscow