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American Women's Club of Hamburg

An intentional Blank Page

Thomas Demand’s photographs on view at the Galerie der Gegenwart through July 6 speak in a rather subdued and eerie manner. The exhibit provides a penetrating insight into the underlying political dimension of Demand’s art.

Demand, one of the most renowned German contemporary artists, began as a sculptor and took up photography to document his ephemeral paper constructions. In 1993 he changed sides, henceforth making life-size paper constructions for the sole purpose of photographing them (the constructions are destroyed hereafter). Real spaces or scenes that have already been publicized as images in print media or via TV are painstakingly reconstructed as life-sized models in his studio, to be made into large-format photographs. Demand confronts the viewer with the lies of politics and the depth of normality as well as modes of surveillance and extortion.

Thomas Demand photoThe series Embassy (2007) consists of nine images showing the embassy of Niger in Rome. It was the site of a burglary in which stationery paper was stolen that supposedly has been used for forged contracts, which served US intelligence services as evidence to support the Iraq War and became known as the Yellow Cake Incident.

Since no reporter ever had access to the site, this serie is based on research the artist has been doing by himself. One of the life-sized photographs shows a ransacked desk made of paper and cardboard, no written word or sign, no grumbles, no dust, no person, just a ransacked desk, all sterile artificiality – all anonymous accusation.

originally published in Currents June/July 2008 

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