Thomas Demand painstakingly reconstructs imagery from found photographs, creating full-sized sculptural tableaux from cardboard and paper. Carefully lighting and photographing these elaborate stage sets (devoid of living things), the artist produces immaculate images of architectural facades and room interiors. Drawn from the recesses of collective memory, the seemingly banal, airless spaces are in fact laden with cultural significance.
Here, Demand has photographed a model based on Abstract Expressionist artist Jackson Pollock’s famous studio on Long Island, New York, where he perfected his drip, pour, and splatter painting technique. Demand’s mute image is filled with the aura of Pollock’s legendary action painting immortalized in the 1950 photographs by Hans Namuth. These pictures demonstrated the performative turn in art, as the event of making began to compete with the primacy of the object itself. Demand’s approach can be described as a translation of sorts—and like all translations, something of the original source is lost. But in this case, something unexpected, even uncanny, is gained.