Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thomas Demand @ Mathew Marks Gallery

Who would have thought that Demand would have the greatest staying power of all the 90’s Germans? I think Ruff is worth mentioning because I like the aggressiveness of his perplexing image making, especially his architectural studies, but too often he just regurgitates things that were done better in Richter’s paintings.

Demand’s Dante-esque task of investigating current events by making to-scale models out of paper has held up excellently. Mainly by creating images that aren’t often available, of inherently interesting events. The strategy almost surpasses the magic trick of producing an entire room out of paper, or the magic of being able to employ or intern large groups of people to help execute Friedman-like feats.

Even if you just love the wonder and scale of his technique, he has upped the ante by producing moving images, in painstaking stop-motion animation, of scenes that appear to be made to-scale. The video in the show is of a swaying cafeteria on what I imagine to be the cruise ship that ran aground off of Italy. I also assumed the same cruise ship was the location of the NASA-looking control room with the plastic covers of the ceiling lights hanging perilously over the emptied, worn control room and the small hotel table with a meal. It turns out that the cafeteria was from another cruise ship, the control room was from a Japanese reactor after the quakes, and the hotel meal was Whitney Houston’s last. Nonetheless, each of the pictures could have just as easily been the scene of some unspeakable disaster that has left behind numerous bits of useless visual information to fill news accounts and the backdrops of zombie movies.

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