Phototrophy. The exhibition is the first comprehensive presentation of the work of Thomas Demand in Austria. Moreover, it will be the most extensive survey to date, with major works from 1994 till the present. The exhibition will span four floors and include nearly 25 large-format photographs with two monumental photo murals and a short film.
The exhibition at Kunsthaus Bregenz is the first comprehensive presentation of the work of Thomas Demand (born in Munich in 1964) in Austria. Moreover, it will be the most extensive survey to date, with major works from 1994 till the present. The exhibition will span four floors and include nearly 25 large-format photographs with two monumental photo murals and a short film.
Demandâ€™s photographs of a kitchen, a copy shop, or a parking lot do not live up to what the observer expects of them. What at first glance seems to be the reproduction of everyday places reveals itself upon closer inspection as a man-made reconstruction of reality that has the effect of a forgery: devoid of people and symbols. In his photos, Demand portrays perfectly illuminated rooms and architecture he has taken from reality and rebuilt out of immacu-late paper in original-size dimensions. He himself speaks of 'life-size environ-ments,' which he destroys after he has photographed them. Demandâ€™s pho-tos, which always demonstrate a sculptural side and often a filmic perspec-tive, always seem to remind us of something that has already happened. They give the gray aesthetics of modern administration systems and archi-tecture a name: the typical office, the archive, the office hallway. This reiter-ation seems so familiar that we ask ourselves if there was a real model. There always are, and Demand chooses them very consciously from historical, political, and criminal documentation photos.
Since the mid-nineties, the artist has been collecting photographic material that has already gained a certain degree of recognition via the media, using it â€“ like the photo showing Uwe Barschel in the bathtub of a hotel in Geneva â€“ as the point of departure for his artworks ('Bathroom,' 1997). At the same time, Demand distances himself from the original photo by eliminating details and narrative moments, thus emptying the original model while condensing it. In dealing with contemporary historical photographic documents in recent years, Demand has not focused just on current political events. Biographical places are also represented, everything from sites that have become famous via the media to actual crime scenes. Demandâ€™s works, however, cannot be reduced to mere anecdotal aspects, not least because the titles are generally quite unspecific. With the artificiality of his built worlds, Demand introduces a concept of reality that is significant for the experience of perception of our technologized and mediatized time.
In addition to the works created especially for this exhibition as well as a selection of works from the past, the exhibition will also include two installations Thomas Demand has designed for the Kunsthaus Bregenz which will be shown on two floors, where they will fundamentally transform the architecture of the exhibition spaces.
On the ground floor, Demand will create a temporary space as part of the 'KUB Arena' series. Two more than 130- and 99-foot-long ceiling-to-floor curtains, running along tracks and starting from the freight and passenger elevators, spiral diagonally toward the center of the room. An oval interior space is produced, which disappears whenever the curtains are opened every few minutes. During intervals, a dark projection room is created where one can watch Demandâ€™s most recent 35 mm short film 'Trick' (2004), which depicts three spinning plates on a table visually taking up the curtain installation. The motorized movement of the curtains through the foyer produces spiral patterns which continuously alter the ground floor layout and lighting situation. The architectural design was developed by the artist in cooperation with the London architects Adam Caruso and Peter St. John. It indirectly calls to mind a spatial design with undulating silk curtains created by the interior designer Lilly Reich for the cafÃ© 'Samt und Seide' in 1928.
On the second floor, two enormous concrete walls, one 9â€™10â€™â€™ high by 41â€™ wide and the other 10â€™6â€™â€™ high by 30â€™ wide, have been suspended from the ceiling, absorbing the materials and forms of the existing space, but refashioning them completely. The walls serve as mounting surfaces for the two monumental photo murals 'Lichtung' (2003) and 'Fassade' (2004). The two walls hovering in the exhibition space make reference to Mies van der Roheâ€™s design of a 'Museum for a Small City,' which suggests a large suspended wall.
Thomas Demand Phototrophy
With fascinating, deceptive accuracy, the photographic works by Thomas Demand show moments of reality and history, but turn out to be deserted mock realities constructed like models.
The catalogue being published in conjunction with the exhibition does not only include the works shown at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, but also gives a retrospective survey of Demandâ€™s work. A short story by Julia Franck written specifically for this publication and an essay by the American author Ralph Rugoff turn the catalogue into a genuine artist book.
Press conference: Thursday, September 16, 2004, 12:00 noon
Opening: Friday, September 17, 2004, 8:00 p.m.
Thomas Demand 'Phototrophy'
Short story by Julia Franck, essay by Ralph Rugoff
English/German, 128 pages, 66 color images, eight pages of photographs
of the installations at the Kunsthaus Bregenz,
Hardcover, 31 x 37 cm, Price: 49.80 Euro
Edited by Eckhard Schneider
Will be published at Schirmer/Mosel Verlag, Oct. 2004
Gottfried Bechtold â€“ Signatur 02
This publication is the first volume of a new book series called 'KUB-WerkbÃ¼cher,' which will be dedicated to works connected to Vorarlberg that, on display either temporarily or permanently, strongly influence public discourse on contemporary art. The steel sculpture 'Signatur 02' by the Vorarlberg artist Gottfried Bechtold on the Silvretta damn is the most recent acquisition of the Kunsthaus Bregenz. The publication explores the topography of the work in the Silvretta with a photo essay by Margherita Spiluttini. The genealogy of the sculpture is detailed by exemplary works by the artist.
KUB-Werkbuch 'Gottfried Bechtold â€“ Signatur 02'
Essays by Thomas Zaunschirm and Eckhard Schneider
German/English, Approx. 120 pages, 125 color and b/w images
Hardcover, 19 x 25 cm, Price: 29.80 Euro
Edited by Eckhard Schneider, Publication date: September 2004
Karl Tizian Platz