There is a certain uneasiness and estrangement about Thomas Demand's large and immaculate photographs of interior spaces and architectural exteriors. Tension between reality and artificiality is established by the fact that what at first appear to be hyperreal reproductions are in fact images of life-size reconstructions made of card and paper. Inanimate, mundane objects - offices, buildings, furniture, or in the most recent example, a hedge - are defamiliarised and reduced to generic forms as if merely leaving the most basic surface information to enable them to be identified as everyday things.
Stark lighting and bland, institutional colours along with the absence of any kind of human form add to the sense that what we are looking at are apparently lifeless, innocuous images. And yet something is not quite right. The deliberate folds and joins evident in the construction of the sets belie their true origin and yet the end image somehow acquires a new aura of authenticity. This is heightened all the more when one learns that Demand's images are often emblematic of a certain mythology and invested with a strong sense of memory, be it personal or collective - Demand's school staircase, Bill Gates' desk, the film archive of Leni Riefenstahl, the corridor which leads to the apartment of mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer or the corner where Ron Hubbard, founder of the Scientology sect wrote his manifesto.
Demand's artistic practice, making photographs of elaborate yet flawed cardboard reconstructions of archival photographs which record a real event or phenomenon not only raises complex questions of representation/the represented - it also seems to be a highly personalised strategy of attempting to make concrete the fragility of memory.