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France – Paris

The first major retrospective of the German photographer and sculptor is on show at the Jeu de Paume, presenting his photographs of life-size reconstructions.

Kontrollraum – © Thomas Demand, Adagp, Paris, 2023

Since the 1990s, Thomas Cyrill Demand has been questioning the viewer’s relationship to the image and to time. His photographs reconstitute places through significant events, media episodes, or political and artistic moments in society. These interior spaces are devoid of any human presence, but are full of traces of their activities. On closer inspection, another reality emerges, that of a visual simulacrum, a facsimile. Based on models, the 59-year-old Munich artist meticulously recreates these places on a real scale, made of paper and cardboard, before taking photos of them and destroying them. This is what the Jeu de Paume invites us to discover in this first major retrospective entitled “The Stammering of History.” In four major sections (Disturbing Stories, The Mysteries of Everyday Life, The Architectonic Impulse, and Pictures that Move), 70 large-format works (photographs, films, and wallpapers) question the veracity of past events.

Refuge_II – © Thomas Demand, Adagp, Paris, 2023

grosbeak – © Thomas Demand, Adagp, Paris, 2023

A disturbing vision

Here, the control room of the Fukushima nuclear power plant (Control room, 2011). There, the room that whistleblower Edward Snowden would have occupied after fleeing to Russia (Refuge, 2021). Elsewhere, his Dailies series recreates objects he photographed with his iPhone during walks and trips (chewing gum stuck to an air vent, a pot of yoghurt ice cream with its pink plastic spoon). Further on, Model Studies is inspired by the preparatory models and radical patterns made by iconic architects and fashion designers, such as John Lautner and Azzedine Alaïa. And to complete the circle, Pacific Sun explores the moving image via animated film. Here the artist reconstructs recorded images of the interior of a cruise ship, battered by the waves of a tropical storm, erasing the crew and passengers. For twenty-five years, Thomas Demand has been reflecting on the banal and disturbing dimensions of what defines contemporary culture in a world saturated with images.

Daily_22 – © Thomas Demand, Adagp, Paris, 2023

Exhibition “The Stammering of History”

Until 28 May 2023

Jeu de Paume

Nathalie Dassa