Door 6: Thomas Demand

What is true and what is fake? These questions have been over-present in all forms of media over the last year. An artist, who took on this question rather by default is the German sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand.

Born in 1964 in Munich, Thomas Demand started studying there at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste and then went to study sculpture under Fritz Schwegler at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. After a short stint at Cité des Arts in Paris, he finished his studies with a Master of Arts at Goldsmiths College, London.

Thomas Demand sees himself as a traditional artist meaning that every single step of each art work goes through his hands. He also dislikes being credited solely as a photographer, as he sees photos as only the last step in his work. He came to this by default, as he initially took photos of his models, which opened up a new world for him.

His approach thereby is to take photos of life-size models, which are a lot about imperfection, as they never set out to be perfect or are over-polished. Starting points for him are well known or well featured places or locations and takes on them by recreating them model-wise, which leads to silent images, devoid of any human presence. These pictures, as he put it, "convey the crudity of the scene without having to tell the whole story".

His inspirations for the pictures range from political settings like Podium (2000), Presidency I-V (2008) or Kitchen (2004) to natural disasters like Kontrollraum (2011) to celebrities like Junior Suite (2012). He does not produce many artworks a year, as he does not want to run a corporation and therefore works only with few people to ensure that he is able to do what he wants to do.

Ever since he started, his work is not only focused on stills, but also makes videos. A recent highlight is his work Pacific Sun (2012). The film is inspired by a YouTube video showing the interior of a boat, while fighting against the raging Tasman sea. The video Thomas Demand made is shot entirely in stop motion, frame by frame, and everything has been done by hand, so nothing is real, not even the movement and again no people were featured.