Thomas Demand typically take as his point of departure a found photograph which he meticulously recreates as a large scale model using paper and cardboard. Demand then produces a single carefully lit and composed image of the completed model that is almost indistinguishable from the original photograph. Its artifice begins to unravel, however, when something unsettling and surreal about Demand’s image entices viewers to study the detail.
Like many of Demand’s photographs, Landing has an objective and matter-of-fact quality that could be associated with crime-scene photography. The artist is drawn to these kinds of images due to their attempt to faithfully represent reality. The process employed by Demand, however, has the effect of depicting reality at a triple remove; by drawing attention to the image’s construction and revealing ‘cracks’ in representation, he aims to problematise photography’s claims to accurately represent the world.
Landing is based on a conservator’s photograph of an unfortunate incident at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, U.K.: a man tripped over his shoelaces, fell down the stairs and knocked over three of the Museum’s most valuable objects (three Qing Dynasty vases). There is an undeniably slapstick quality to the accident which Demand aims to exploit in his reconstruction. The title of the work also constitutes a kind of linguistic slapstick – ‘Landing’ is an architectural term and also describes what has happened to the vases.