AboutThomas Demand, one of the world's most influential and original contemporary artists, is to present a major new soloexhibition at The Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin from September 2009. Showing around 35 works, including a number of new pieces, âNationalgalerie' (National Gallery) will be the largest and most important exhibition of Demand's work ever mounted in his native country.
âNationalgalerie' is not a general retrospective of Demand's career in any straightforward sense. Timed to coincide with the anniversaries of two pivotal historical events in German history, the foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany 60 years ago and the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago, it is rather an examination through the body of Demand's work of perhaps the most important theme of the artist's richly diverse practice: Germany.
The assembled works all engage with moments of significance in Germany's recent past, unnerving sites of upheaval and transformative change which are meticulously reconstructed in fragile, disposable materials such as paper and cardboard, and then photographed by the artist. The images do not merely bear witness to key episodes in the unfolding of contemporary German history, however. Alongside the instantly recognizable scenes, the exhibition also includes works which depict the private dramas of German life which are equally constitutive of the kaleidoscope of a particular time and place. Each image replicates a site half-remembered by the public's collective consciousness, and filtered through the media-saturated experience of the later twentieth century. Whether depicting the eerie banality of the site of a notorious child murder, or the garish quiet of the empty set of a television quiz show, the sense of near-familiarity blended with estrangement prompts intriguing questions about the extent to which society's identity and memory is condensed and contained in just a few iconic images.
The great glass hall of the Neue Nationalgalerie, designed by Mies van der Rohe, is a particularly appropriate context in which to display Demand's meditations on contemporary Germany. The building is not only an incunabulum of post-war architecture, but also equally historically significant as a symbol of the way the Federal Republic of Germany viewed itself at the former inner-city border. The exhibition design by the London-based architects Caruso St John forms an ideal connection between Demand's works and the light hall of the museum, appropriately enough one of the most powerful buildings in the German capital.
The exhibition has been made possible by the Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie and sponsored by E.ON. The project has received additional generous support from Kvadrat, Denmark. A detailed book, published by steidlMACK,London, will accompany the exhibition with editions in both German and English.