Thomas Demand’s presidential bid at Sprüth Magers
With the recent US elections still ringing in our consciousness, Thomas Demand has chosen, with eerie prescience, the topic of the American presidency for his new exhibition which opens today at London’s Sprüth Magers gallery.
Titled Presidency, this is the German photographer’s first showing in the UK since his 2006 Serpentine outing. This time round, the visual totem is the fabled Oval Office and its pivotal role in 21st century global politics.
Well aware that this is probably one of the most famous rooms in the world, and also one that most of us will never actually step foot into, Demand does what he does best, which is to create, and then photograph, a hyper-realistic set model from paper, cardboard and, strangely enough, confetti. At first glance, the model is a perfect recreation but there are carefully constructed flaws, such as a skewed perspective, that take a while to emerge.
The resulting quintet of photographs is a sly observation of power especially since it’s set against a background where it’s difficult to decide where statecraft ends and stagecraft begins.
The impermanence too of the charade is driven home by the knowledge that once the shoot is over, Demand destroys his models. In the context of the American presidency, this destruction is a deliberate move to undermine what Demand explains as our naive faith in the ’permanence and unshakeability of American, or indeed any, political authority.’