Thomas Demand - Nationalgalerie

Thomas Demand, Heldenorgel, 2009, C-Print/ Diasec, 240 x 380 cm, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, PICTORIGHT, Amsterdam
Thomas Demand, Heldenorgel, 2009, C-Print/ Diasec, 240 x 380 cm, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, PICTORIGHT, Amsterdam

Thomas Demand - Nationalgalerie
New: Alexander Kluge and Botho Strauss respond to Thomas Demand’s work
29 May - 22 August 2010

Thomas Demand asked the doyen of German film directors Alexander Kluge and playwright Botho Strauss for their reactions to his work. Kluge’s films can now be seen in Rotterdam for the first time. Demand’s exhibition Nationalgalerie, with works of art inspired by German history, opens in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen this weekend.

Nationalgalerie, previously staged in Berlin, is a large solo exhibition by the contemporary artist Thomas Demand (1964) in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Demand has chosen works from his oeuvre of twenty-five photographic works that have to do with Germany, the theme of the exhibition. For his exhibition in Rotterdam he also asked two important German artists for their reactions to his work from the perspective of their own disciplines. The playwright Botho Strauss wrote texts, and the doyen of German cinema, Alexander Kluge, made twelve short films which will be shown for the first time in various places in the exhibition space. Visually too, the films and texts are an integral part of the exhibition.

Image of Germany
In Berlin, Nationalgalerie coincided with two significant celebrations, the founding of the German Federal Republic sixty years ago, and the fall of the Berlin Wall twenty years ago. In Rotterdam the exhibition will coincide with the end of the Second World War sixty-five years ago and the bombing of the city seventy years ago. Demand’s Nationalgalerie raised many questions about Germany, about German history and German identity and the relationship with that identity. Demand makes the visitor aware of the subjective relationship people have with the images and with identity in general. The exhibition in Rotterdam is more than an adapted version of the show in Berlin. The design of the exhibition in the Neue National Galerie in Berlin has been translated to the exhibition space in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. The question underlying the new exhibition is how an exhibition like this, specifically geared to Germany as it is, will be received in the Netherlands. For example Nationalgalerie will raise questions about the image the Dutch have of Germany and indirectly about the different ways the two countries deal with recent history.

A Palette of History
Demand’s works refer to social and historical events. He starts his working process with a well-known media image that intrigues him, often one that is famous in Germany, such as ‘Haltestelle’, the much discussed bus shelter where the rock band Tokio Hotel used to meet. Demand makes towering cardboard models of the events in the photograph which he then photographs with a professional camera. His works take on an architectural quality from the way in which he photographs the detailed replicas. Together the works form a multi-coloured palette of a defining period in recent German history.

Thomas Demand has exhibited all over the world, with recent shows in London, New York, Vienna and Venice.

Nationalgalerie has been made possible with support from the Goethe-Institut Niederlande/ Embassy of the German Federal Republic The Hague, the SNS REAAL Foundation, Foundation for Democracy and Media and the Mondriaan Foundation.