The other night Thomas Demand offhandedly described some of the insane details of the production of Clearing, the massive photograph of a forest which is now built into The Modern at MoMA. The photograph was laminated onto two sheets of architectural safety glass that were so large, they had to use satellite-curing ovens at ESA, the European Space Agency--at night--to fabricate it. When the request for the work, Thomas said, "no one quite knew what they were getting."
[On an irrelevant note, the lifesize set for Clearing happened to be in Demand's studio during a MoMA Jr Associates visit I set up. It was so stunning, the trustees quickly added the studio to their Berlin itinerary, and curator Kynaston McShine suggested the Modern acquire the work. And I still can't get a reservation.]
I mention this--obviously I mention the studio story for self-aggrandizement, but remember the tagline of this site, yo--because not quite knowing what you're getting seems like one of the underlying currents of Demand's work.
Walking through the show, I tried to recall the portentous actual setting that was obscured behind each photograph's generic title: Kitchen was Saddam's, Archive was Riefenstahl's, etc., but I kept remembering them wrong, which made me load all kinds of historical baggage onto each image; turns out only some of the bags actually matched. Barn was Pollock's, not Kaczynski's; the cluttered desk was L. Ron Hubbard's, not Bill Gates'. The Bauhaus-style stairway was from Demand's middle school, but it turns out even he remembered it wrong.
Thomas Demand opens today at MoMA [moma.org]
Michael Kimmelman calls it "hypnotic" [nyt]
No one goes to The Modern; it's too crowded