Surveying Corners, Constructing Views

Thomas Demand observes spaces, tracing the events left behind.

poster for Thomas Demand Exhibition

Thomas Demand Exhibition

at Taka Ishii Gallery Tokyo
in the Roppongi, Nogizaka area
This event has ended - (2007-11-10 - 2007-12-08)

In Reviews by Meighan Ellis 2007-12-03

Thomas Demand is primarily concerned with how we are passive in our absorption of information and how we allow ourselves to be educated by the images generated by the media. He addresses issues of accurate representation and translation through photographic reproduction. His still do not photograph ‘real’ scenes, but instead ones that he has constructed out of paper and cardboard, having painstakingly arranged the objects and constructions within the compositions to trigger memories of and associations with more immediate historical events.

The first of the small number of photographs on display in this current exhibition at the Taka Ishii Gallery presents us with what appears initially to be nothing other than the banality of the interior at a fast food locale, titled KFC 2007. Here, Demand simply presents viewers with red and blue plastic seating. Even though there is no familiar detail, advertising branding or ephemera left within the empty and disquieting scene, the coloured seats alone are the only visual signifier required to trigger our recognition of the collective experience of visiting these places. The photos are also in themselves documentations of his meticulous observation and craftsmanship.

The second photograph, Shed 2006, shows a more grandiose use of scale in the pre-production of the subject matter: a neglected storeroom cluttered with buckets, machinery and other detritus. In this image, some of the subject matter has been depicted with more detail than in the preceding image; the models are more elaborately designed and constructed and one has a better sense of what the space’s function than in other works on display.

What follows the photographs are two installed film works. The first is a digital AV projection (Camera 2007), and the second (Yellow Cake 2007) a 35mm film projected onto a large canvas screen filling the entirety of the temporary partitioned room.

For those who are familiar with Demand’s work, these two film works are what cement this exhibition as a success. Kept in short loops that have been specifically installed within the gallery, they extend the slippage of Thomas Demand’s inquiry into what transcribes the real and the fake, be it visual representation and documentation of the recording of time and historical events and ultimately our own reading of this truth.

Meighan Ellis

Meighan Ellis. Born on the eve of Halloween in the year of the Tiger on the shores of New Zealand. Since graduating from Victoria University School of Architecture and Design, she has been lecturing on photography at universities in both New Zealand and Japan. Having spent the last two years working and living in London and Sydney as a freelance creative focusing mainly on photography, writing, collaborative projects and contributing to various international magazines, she's back and currently can be found wandering around the Tokyo machine, camera(s), pencils and phone in hand. » See other writings


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