Tag Archives: ArtPress

Thomas Demand

Although I can’t find a current exhibition for him, I find his work incredibly austere, and his ideas about memory and perception are interesting in relation to my own work.

“In the photo, a stairway leads up to an open door in the side of an airplane. Haven’t you seen this somewhere before? Yes, usually there’s a visiting dignitary standing at the top of the stairs waving to the press and fans. But there are no people in this photo. And the backdrop isn’t real. German artist Thomas Demand (b. 1964) made it entirely from cardboard, colored paper and glue.

Demand bases his paper models on found images, reproducing their perspective, color, and scale. The airplane photo Gangway (2001), for example, mimics a news photo of the Pope visiting Berlin. The other three photos (and one series) in Demand’s debut solo show in Japan are reconstructions of gold bullion, an empty locker room, tenement apartments, and leaves. Demand builds the paper models full-scale, meaning the airplane and stairway were built the same size as a real airplane and stairway. The prints, too, are 1:1 scale-Gangway is over two meters high-giving a clear view onto the rumpled surfaces and loose edges of Demand’s paper-thin memories. “They’re like windows,” says the artist.

Windows into the past, perhaps. Demand, trained as a sculptor, never keeps his paper creations. He builds them, photographs them, and then destroys them. Though superficially similar to the miniature-paper Mercedes and AmEx cards of Chinese funerals (both address the transitory), Demand’s models are more like movie sets. They exist to be photographed and last only as long as the shoot. And in this process of documentation, sculpture and photograph become one.

Movie sets are made to look as genuine as possible, down to real Coke cans and faux wood grain. Demand (who has made several short films), however, strips away fine details like text, producing too-clean, generic versions of things. The tops of the gold bars in Bullion (2003), for example, are embossed with a simple circle, not origin and purity stamps. Even his trash looks new; the crumpled cup under the bench in the locker room scene Kabine (2002) was never used for drinking, only as a prop to signify “used cup.”

Another unusual-and the most overtly political-piece in this show is Public Housing (2003), a pinkish photo of roughly constructed modern apartment buildings next to an empty playground. Demand’s source image in this case was not a photo but the drawing on the back of a Singapore $10 bill.

Demand is a one-man scene shop creating images that anticipate dramatic moments. Yet there are never any people in the photos; the drama is forever suspended. This absence focuses attention on the uncanny stillness of Demand’s photographic trompe l’oeil. Ironically, the sets are analogous to figures in a wax museum; they are both very real and very fake.”

© http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/486/art.asp

Tom Friedman

Pick up Sticks

This was one of Tom's first pieces

Tom Friedman is one of those artists, that if you are an artist, you love to hate. His use of simple materials in complex ways always has be asking “why didn’t I think of that”. He gets his art supplies from drugstores, candy stores, the human body, and the supermarket. Friedman relentlessly invents intricate objects out of a range of household materials, such as styrofoam, masking tape, pencils, toilet paper, spaghetti, toothpicks and bubble gum. His work is obsessively and painstakingly crafted and is both beautiful and playful. Friedman’s ability to transform common objects into something new, his devotion to material perfection, the way he
conceptualizes the action of the artisan, enables him to elevate the ordinary to the status of art.

(© Images are the property of Tom Friedman, text from http://www.designboom.com/portrait/friedman.html)