Art

Recorder (film still, 2002)
photo: Courtesy 303 Gallery
Recorder (film still, 2002)

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Thomas Demand
303 Gallery
525 West 22nd Street
Through April 17

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Demand's meticulously fabricated work is a seamless interplay of sculpture and photography. Working only with colored paper, Demand constructs still lifes, interiors, and landscapes that are at once frankly artificial and utterly convincing. His massive photographs—the largest one here is more than 16 feet across—are virtually life-size views of these constructions, and each one is a subtle but substantial tour de force. So a show with only four photos and a 35mm film loop doesn't feel at all meager, especially when that big picture—Clearing, a panoramic view of green trees drenched in golden sunlight that recalls Thomas Struth's "Paradise" series—is probably the most beautiful image in town. Typically, most of Demand's pieces are based on real-world source material: Space Simulator, a hulking mass of what looks like bad corporate sculpture, is from the Apollo space missions, and the film loop re-creates a reel-to-reel tape playing a snippet of the Beach Boys' legendary Smile. But the most intriguing photo in the show is of a small, messy kitchen that might be on Ludlow Street but is in fact inspired by the one in Saddam Hussein's much photographed hideaway. With its pink plastic pitcher, bowl of soup, and orange peel on the floor, it's a witty footnote to the ongoing exploration of the banality of evil.

 
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