Essay by Roxana Marcoci. Short story by Jeffrey Eugenides.
German artist Thomas Demand occupies a singular position in the world of photography. Initially he took up photography to record his ephemeral paper constructions, but in 1993 he turned the tables by making constructions in order to photograph them. Demand begins by translating a preexisting image, usually culled from the media, into a life-size model he makes out of colored paper and cardboard. He recreates a room, a parking lot, a staircase, a landscape--then he photographs the model and destroys it. Demand's photographs appear at once compellingly real and strangely artificial. Since their subjects--handcrafted facsimiles of both architectural spaces and natural environments--are themselves built in the image of other images, the photographs are three times removed from the scenes they seek to depict. Combining craftsmanship and conceptualism in equal parts, Demand pushes the medium of photography toward uncharted frontiers. Given the cinematic quality of many of his photographs, it is not surprising that he has set some of them in motion, producing five 35 mm films. This comprehensive publication presents all of Demand's major works from 1993 to the present. It includes previously unpublished archival documentation, and offers compelling insight into his working process and the stories behind his pictures.