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29 May – 22 August 2010
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is staging a solo exhibition by the artist Thomas Demand. ‘Nationalgalerie’ takes Germany as its theme and is being shown outside the country for the first time. Staged in a different historical context, the show will certainly not be received in the same way in Rotterdam.
‘Nationalgalerie, the first solo exhibition of the work of German artist Thomas Demand (1964) in Berlin, was specially conceived for the Neue Nationalgalerie. The exhibition is a thematic retrospective. The artist has selected pieces from his work that specifically relate to the subject of the ’Nationalgalerie’. In Berlin, the exhibition 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.
Image of Germany
The underlying question is how an exhibition like this, specifically geared to Germany, will be received in the Netherlands. Demand’s show in Berlin raised many questions about Germany, German history, German identity and how to deal with one’s own identity. By showcasing images (and sometimes well-known media images) relating to German history in a single presentation, Demand triggers visitors’ subjective relationship with them and with individual identities in general. The exhibition at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen will not only be a new version of the Berlin show, it will also raise questions about the image the Dutch have of Germany, and indirectly about how Dutch and German attitudes and outlooks differ and about the way the Dutch deal with processing recent history.
A Palette of History
In Rotterdam, Demand will be showing some twenty-five works that reflect his slant on social and public events in German history since 1945. It is an installation that echoes the architecture of the show in the Neue Nationalgalerie, but has a unique sculptural quality as an installation. Demand always starts the process with an image from the media that intrigues him. These are often images that are well-known in Germany, such as ‘Haltestelle’, the much-discussed bus shelter where the rock band Tokio Hotel used to meet.
Demand makes life-sized cardboard models of the events in the photographs, which he then photographs with a large camera. This technique gives his works an architectural quality. In the photograph, the monumental bursts through and the image is disconnected from the trivialities and the clutter of the surroundings. Demand’s works create a multi-coloured palette of a defining period in recent German history.
Thomas Demand has exhibited all over the world, with recent solo exhibitions in London, New York and at the Venice Biennale.
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.
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