Haltestelle, 2009. ©Thomas Demand, VG Bild-Kunst
Part of Thomas Demand’s wonderful show Nationalgalerie, “Haltestelle” (2009) is a very recent work, as usual a large-scale photograph of a life-size paper model resembling a space of cultural significance. In this case it is a nondescript rural German bus shelter, which happens to be the place just outside of Magdeburg where the teen pop band Tokio Hotel were waiting for their school bus every morning.
Now this is what I’ve been told about what happened: due to the band’s huge popularity with teenagers, the shelter soon became somewhat of a favourite destination to worship the band, much to the annoyance of the local residents who had to cope with a torrent of emo kids rolling in from all directions on a daily basis. They came up with the idea of removing the shelter and putting it up on eBay, somewhat unsuccessfully. Soon after they realized that, due to their limited pocket money, Tokio Hotel’s fans would not be able to purchase an item like this in one piece. In a slight iteration of the plan they sawed it apart and offered the pieces on eBay, this time to much greater success.
What is interesting about this piece is that to some extent it mirrors Demand’s own way of working in the way that the residents took advantage of the connotation of an object in the collective memory and used that to produce a new object (or pieces in their case) in its own right.
A text accompanying the exhibition says “Thomas Demand’s works test our reception of visual media and explore their influence on the structures of our memory, [he] conducts experiments in visual culture which centre around the questions of whether and to what extent a society’s appearance is condensed and concentrated in individual key images as well as being retained in people’s minds and remembered through such key images.”
The show, situated in Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie close to Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz features about 35 works, each reflected in a text by Botho Strauss. Runs through January 17th 2010.