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UCCA Edge presents Thomas Demand: The Stutter of History

July 8–September 4, 2022

The Stutter of History, the first thorough examination of Thomas Demand’s (b. 1964, Munich; resides and works in Berlin and Los Angeles) work in China, will be on display from July 8 to September 4, 2022, at UCCA Edge. The exhibition includes over 70 images, films, and wallpapers that span the artist’s career and concentrates on four key areas of his work: large-scale images of scenes that appear unimportant but are actually historically significant that are recreated from news images or other sources; “Dailies” made from photos he took on his phone; and photographic studies of paper models from other artists. The non-profit Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography commissioned Douglas Fogle to curate the show, which Ara Qiu, Mason Zha, Zhang Yao, and Lin Luqi arranged at UCCA Edge. UCCA Edge expresses gratitude to viewers for their understanding on how recent pandemic-related restrictions have affected the exhibition’s scheduled opening and closing dates.

The gap between the existing images that depict our world, the 1:1 paper models he painstakingly constructs to reconstruct them, the photographs he takes of these models, the destruction of the models, and the para-photographic forms that relaunch into the world is where Demand finds “The Stutter of History.” Demand’s large-scale pictures in the first section show scenes from the edges of recent history, such as the polling places for the tumultuous 2000 US presidential election and the Gangway (2001) that Pope John Paul II descended on his visit to undivided Berlin (Poll, 2001). A number of pieces tackle images connected to the Nazi era and other traumatic events in German history, such as the trashed Stasi Office (1995) and Room (1994), the location of a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler in 1944. More recently, the “Refuge” series (2021) recreates the bland Russian hotel room that American whistleblower Edward Snowden presumably slept in.

The “Dailies” series (2008-2020), on display on the third floor, contrasts the public and monumental with shots of paper models Demand built using pictures acquired with his iPhone. They show the common, occasionally amusing, and frequently disregarded events that occur in daily life, such as a stack of unread mail, a poster on a phone pole, or plastic cups jammed in a fence.

Demand dialogues with models from different creative fields in his “Model Studies.” Offering an alternative perspective on the use and haptic materiality of models, the images on exhibit here make fragmentary and abstract studies of well-used paper models from the architecture company SANAA and the radical paper dress designs of fashion designer Azzedine Alaa.

Finally, the show explores Demand’s investigations of stop-motion filmmaking and his dedication to the moving picture, as seen in the piece Pacific Sun (2012). Demand painstakingly recreated this vast, bizarre stop-motion animation film from two minutes of security footage from the cruise liner Pacific Sun when it was struck by enormous waves off the coast of New Zealand, housed in a specially made cinema-like installation. Its frantic moments of unchecked anarchy come to a head in climactic absurdity, a state that is crucial to understanding the contrast between the unsettling utopian potential of his paper models and the widespread consumption of their photographic doppelgängers.

In addition to specific pieces of art, exhibition design is a crucial component of Demand’s conceptual method of producing art. Demand creates an immersive atmosphere for the viewer where image and world meet through his architectural use of textiles, wallpapers, and temporary constructions.

The Stutter of History, an English-language exhibition catalogue, was created in cooperation with the artist, his longtime publisher MACK, and creative director Naomi Mizusaki. Douglas Fogle’s preface, Margaret Iversen’s essay, and Ali Smith’s original prose fiction are all included in the catalogue.

Jing’an District
2F, No. 88 Xizang Bei Lu