Thomas Demand, Bathroom, 1997
Thomas Demand / The Stutter of History
Aug 9 2023 – Feb 10 2024
Israel Museum

What is it that we actually see when we look at Thomas Demand’s photographs? Demand, born in Munich in 1964, has spent almost three decades exploring the intersections of history, images, and architectural forms. In his large-scale photographic objects, history presents itself as banal, gnawingly disturbing facsimiles of places and episodes that we cannot quite identify. While his images may appear to depict the real world, upon closer inspection they resonate with a fragile similitude as these are in fact photographs of impermanent sculptural recreations. Demand selects images from the media, recreates them as life-size models using paper and cardboard, and then photographs them. The key to his work is understanding this feedback loop: from the actual events, through their photographic record in the media, to Demand’s sculptural recreations and his uncanny para-photographic versions that are launched back into the world.

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Thomas Demand: The Stutter of History presents a career-wide survey of four important areas of Demand’s work. His “Uncanny Histories” are large-scale photographs of anonymous yet historically significant scenarios. His smaller-scale “Dailies” are constructed from images taken with his phone that investigate the mysteries of everyday life. Demand’s fascination with architectonic forms is evident in his “Model Studies,” which document paper maquettes created by architects and dress patterns cut by fashion designers, and in his use of wallpapers of his own design. Finally, his commitment to the moving image comes to the fore in two mesmerizing explorations of stop-motion filmmaking.

Thomas Demand has also conceived the design for the exhibition, as an integral part of his approach to artistic production. With his architectural use of wallpapers and temporary structures, he creates an immersive environment for the viewer in which image and world collide.