Thomas Demand made a short film for Station to Station which hearkens back to the birth of the moving image.
What does it mean for a place to be loaded with meaning? This is one of the questions Thomas Demand wants us to ask. His photographs are deadpan. The locations depicted are often weighted with historical, cultural, social or political import: Jackson Pollock’s studio; the New York hotel room where L. Ron Hubbard composed Dianetics; the studio where Richard Vorhölzer came up with much of the urban planning for postwar Germany; the podium at which Slobodan Milošević delivered his Gazimestan speech; the control room at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
The blankness of depiction can be unnerving. Why doesn’t the photograph care more? How can this image be so apathetic? And yet, of course, an image can no more care than a place can… So what are we talking about here?
Oh yeah, and they aren’t really places after all. They are replicas, facsimiles that Demand has built. Always careful to make them not completely convincing, slightly off, he then photographs them and destroys them when he’s done… Where’s the meaning now?