A new exhi­bi­tion of the Ger­man author Thomas Demand has opened at the Moscow Garage Muse­um of Con­tem­po­rary Art. Graph­ic, detailed, rethink­ing pol­i­tics and under­stand­ing of nature in the work of one of the most sig­nif­i­cant pho­tog­ra­phers of recent decades.

Thomas Demand

Let’s ask the obvi­ous ques­tion: “Why do pho­tog­ra­phers make exhi­bi­tions of their own work?”. Well, of course, first of all, to show the whole world that this is who I am — a pho­to exhi­bi­tion is a kind of con­sol­i­da­tion of the pro­fes­sion­al suc­cess of the cre­ator. Sec­ond­ly, of course, to share your own thoughts, ideas and insights.

And what does a pho­to exhi­bi­tion mean for an ordi­nary view­er? Not a pro­fes­sion­al, not a crit­ic, but an ordi­nary per­son who, on his free Sun­day, decides to enlight­en him­self cul­tur­al­ly, take a break from the office and go to an exhi­bi­tion. He enters the hall and sees a lot of works that, at first glance, may not even be relat­ed to each oth­er. And, most like­ly, the fact that he under­stands the pho­tog­ra­pher’s idea will be one of the deci­sive fac­tors whether he likes the expo­sure or he leaves with­out even under­stand­ing what is hap­pen­ing there. Friends will ask: “Well, how?”. And he: “Yes, bull­shit, don’t go, noth­ing is clear.” Well, that’s right — it looked like, looked like near the walls, and left.

The works of Thomas Dem­anad, col­lect­ed at the expo­si­tion in the Garage, are sin­gle, frag­ment­ed, frag­ment­ed. There is no sin­gle sto­ry between them, and there­fore, placed side by side in the same room, they launch an “autonomous nar­ra­tive”: the view­er him­self puts the sto­ry togeth­er in his head, decides for him­self what these print­ed pieces of life are con­nect­ed with. But, per­haps, not always a per­son is able to cap­ture the essence and inde­pen­dent­ly lay the mean­ing in the work of the artist.

That’s why I con­sid­er the atmos­phere of the expo­si­tion to be such an impor­tant ele­ment, and if not in a 50/50 ratio, then 60/40 for sure, in favor of the mate­r­i­al itself.

And that’s why I love Garage with all my heart: the light, the arrange­ment of works, music, video and often inter­ac­tive exhibits — here they know how to keep the guest’s atten­tion. There­fore, it is worth com­ing at least in order to immerse your­self in this atmos­phere of art and at least just feel like an enlight­ened per­son.

Let’s move on to the hero of the occa­sion. Thomas Demand is a 57-year-old Ger­man artist who works and lives in Berlin and Los Ange­les. The pre­sent­ed pho­tographs depict works of paper, which he makes with his own hands in the stu­dio.

Five globes. 1991

One of the author’s first works, “Five Globes”, cre­at­ed back in 1991 and re-print­ed specif­i­cal­ly for the exhi­bi­tion in the Garage. Unlike many works, these globes are made from bal­loons, not paper. And few peo­ple will notice that there are exact­ly six balls in this pho­to, and not five, as stat­ed in the title.

Iron struc­tures are hang­ing “cin­e­mas” that show films by Alexan­der Kluge, Ger­man film and TV pre­sen­ter, author, pro­duc­er, pub­lic fig­ure, and ide­ol­o­gist of the New Ger­man Cin­e­ma.

Kluge’s films are video sequels or video inter­pre­ta­tions of Demand’s three works pre­sent­ed at the exhi­bi­tion: Vault, Five Globes, Ruin. The con­cept of “cut­ting time” in the per­for­mance of Kruke clar­i­fies and clar­i­fies many of Demand’s works. This con­cept lies in the fact that an event that a per­son puts into the orbits of uni­ver­sal, cos­mic time approach­es the human pri­vate.

Demand pays great atten­tion to detail and graph­ics.

Lawn. 1998

To cre­ate this work, the pho­tog­ra­ph­er spent three months to cre­ate an instal­la­tion of paper blades of grass. Super detail in all its glo­ry.

The works “Lawn”, “Pond” and the incu­ba­tor were includ­ed in the cycle under the gen­er­al title “Arti­fi­cial­i­ty of Nature”. And this is the case when con­tem­po­rary art seri­ous­ly hits my state of mind, because some seem­ing­ly mun­dane things are rethought with such depth that it is very dif­fi­cult for the brain to accept the new facets of these rou­tines.

“Is there nature today that is not cul­ti­vat­ed, not mas­tered by man? And is the very idea of ​​nature as an antithe­sis to the urban, civ­i­lized, indus­tri­al is viable?” the author asks.

My per­son­al per­cep­tion of the under­stand­ing of nature — a sim­pler one and con­sist­ing in the desire to con­nect with nature in order to find peace of mind — does not make it easy to under­stand and share the author’s posi­tion. But in any case, the pic­tures them­selves deserve atten­tion: rich col­ors and tex­tures attract atten­tion.

Incu­ba­tor. 2020

Rethink­ing anoth­er top­ic, pol­i­tics, attract­ed me more in con­nec­tion with cur­rent events (name­ly, elec­tions to the State Duma). It became inter­est­ing how a cit­i­zen of anoth­er coun­try assess­es the move­ments tak­ing place in pol­i­tics.

From left to right, work: “Sign. 2015”, “Con­trol room. 2011”

Here, for exam­ple, vot­ing booths, which should guar­an­tee the inde­pen­dence and con­fi­den­tial­i­ty of every­one’s polit­i­cal choice, are more like a chil­dren’s design­er.

Vote. 2018

Demand also cap­tures events impor­tant for his­to­ry and pol­i­tics.

year 2001. New York. Twin tow­ers attack. 2977 peo­ple became vic­tims. The image below is a play­back of CCTV footage at the Port­land air­port in the ear­ly morn­ing as Mohammed Atta, who rammed the North Tow­er of the World Trade Cen­ter that same day, was being searched.

Board­ing gate. 2004

Category “Daily photos”

Anoth­er sec­tion of the exhi­bi­tion is devot­ed to pho­tographs, which, as the author says, cap­ture the details of life that we do not notice in the dai­ly bus­tle.

These pho­tos res­onat­ed a lit­tle more in my heart, because they are based on the same expe­ri­ences of the author that each of us expe­ri­ence: Demand admits that he took these pic­tures and did not under­stand where they could be put, but at the same time he was sor­ry to remove them. Does it remind you of any­one?

Left to right: Dai­ly Pho­to #27. 2016; Dai­ly pho­to #34. 2020; Dai­ly pho­to #12. 2009

It is inter­est­ing that each pic­ture has the name “Dai­ly Pho­to No…” and the cor­re­spond­ing num­ber, as if sym­bol­iz­ing that each pho­to is just a part of the next day of our life, some­thing insignif­i­cant and also fly­ing through time.

But even in such every­day shots, the pho­tog­ra­pher’s style is man­i­fest­ed: graph­ic, a pro­nounced object in the frame, min­i­mal­ism.


The main part of the exhi­bi­tion con­sists of works from the peri­od 1991–2021. The last episode was made specif­i­cal­ly for Garage and is ded­i­cat­ed to the sto­ry of Edward Snow­den. Recall that in 2013, Snow­den was charged with espi­onage — he fled from the Unit­ed States, first to Hong Kong, and then to Rus­sia, where he spent more than a month in the Shereme­tye­vo tran­sit zone.

The Shel­ter sec­tion of the exhi­bi­tion ded­i­cat­ed to the his­to­ry of Edward Snow­den
Shel­ter III. 2021

The pho­tographs show the alleged loca­tion of Snow­den at Shereme­tye­vo. A blank space, every object is accent­ed and min­i­mal­is­tic: a table, a lamp, a tele­phone, and so on. An omi­nous atmos­phere is cre­at­ed, because each item can become a wire­tap­ping tool. This is also facil­i­tat­ed by the very premis­es of the expo­si­tion — dim light and closed space.

The exhi­bi­tion will run until Jan­u­ary 30, 2022.


От Yara

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