Last chance to see… Thomas Demand at Jeu de Paume

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Poll, 2001, Chromogenic print/Diasec

It seems that I totally forgot to tell you about the Thomas Demand exhibition “The Stutter of History”, at Musée du Jeu de Paume in the Tuileries and it ends on May 28, next Sunday, so if you have time this week, rush to see it, it is very fascinating. The artist who was born in Munich in 1964, works on the imbrication of History into our lives. He searches the media for meaningful photographs of events such as the bedroom in Cheremetievo where whistleblower Edward Snowden lived before being arrested or the complete destruction of a house hit by an earthquake or a bomb, Scientologist Ron Hubbard’s bedroom, Donald Trump’s press conference regarding his business activities in 2017 … There are 60 large photographs printed on Diasec which hang on two floors of the Museum and are spectacular. The show is curated by Quentin Bajac, director of the museum since 2018. It is both disturbing and very pleasing.

Folders, 2017, Donald Trump’s “evidence” during his press conference

Demand recreates historical scenes that have struck him in the media, with paper or cardboard in order to photograph them. The most time consuming photo here is certainly the “Lichtung/Clearing” of 2003. The artists made 270 000 tree leaves in paper to restore the decor of  an enchanted forest where a golden light pours through a canopy of trees. He recreates artificially the most natural scenery, questioning the notion of artifice.

Lichtung/Clearing, 2003, is made of 270 000 leaves in paper

Some of his pictures are more political, others are just a reflection on daily life like television broadcasts or nature. The waterlily photo irresistibly reminds us of Giverny and Monet. “The Control Room” recreates the abandoned nuclear power plant in Fukushima where the tsunami destroyed the Tohoku region in 2011.  The common denominator of all his works is that he suppresses human beings from the photo. The picture with the violins is particularly spectacular and playful  in his use of cardboard for representing the precious wood of the instruments.

Werkstatt/Workshop, 2017, is based on a Bavarian village violin maker’s studio

In photographing daily banal domestic scenes, Demand puts the emphasis of the drama lived by some famous politicians like in Badezimmer/Bathroom, 1997, when he recreates the hotel room in Geneva, of Uwe Barschel, where he committed suicide? or was murdered?

The artist lives in Berlin and is represented by Galerie Esther Schipper on 16 place Vendôme. The exhibition was created at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art Edge in Shanghai and will travel to the Museum of Israel in Jerusalem, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and Taipei Fine Arts in 2025. Thank you Christian for alerting me to it…

Pond, 2020, © Thomas Demand, Adagp, Paris, 2023

This is the first major retrospective of the photographer in Paris since the 2000 exhibition at Fondation Cartier. The decors on the walls are all conceived by the artist and they are fun. Musée du Jeu de Paume until May 28.

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