The Shutter of History is a career-wide survey of Thomas Demand´s sculptural and photographic work. Presented at UCCA Edge, in Shangai, the exhibition captures the unexpected intersections of history, images, and architectonic forms. Showing over 70 photographs, films, and wallpapers that span over Demand’s career, this exhibition is his first comprehensive survey in China. Thomas Demand has spent the last two and a half decades bringing together his talents as both a sculptor and a photographer in an attempt to capture the uncanny stutter of history that lies at the root of our contemporary image culture.

In the first section of the exhibition, the “uncanny histories” of Demand’s large-scale photographs depict scenarios from the margins of historical events, moments, and developments throughout the twentieth century. On the third floor, visitors will experience the “Dailies” series (2008-2020), the result of Demand’s shift towards the personal and quotidian, as the images that circulate on social media have come into their own as a distinct genre. Turning outwards and departing from sculptural reconstructions of images, Demand enters into a dialogue with models from other creative professions in his “Model Studies,” connecting them to his own practice through an approach that is more utopian than utilitarian. Finally, the exhibition investigates Demand’s commitment to the moving image in his explorations of stop-motion filmmaking, as demonstrated in the work Pacific Sun (2012).

Kvadrat is proud to support the exhibition with 300 metres of Divina by Finn Sködt to accompany Pacific Sun, creating a cinema-like intervention specially built in the fourth floor gallery for viewers to explore Demand’s stop-motion filmmaking.


2F, No. 88 Xizang Bei Lu Jing’an District Shanghai, China

Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am – 7 pm
Monday closed

About UCCA Edge

Opening May 2021, UCCA Edge occupies 5500 square meters over three levels of the new EDGE tower in Shanghai’s Jing’an District. Designed by New York-based architects SO – IL, the museum includes 1700 square meters of gallery space as well as a wraparound outdoor terrace and public spaces including a lobby and auditorium. As an integral part of the UCCA constellation, UCCA Edge mounts exhibitions of leading Chinese and international artists, some developed exclusively for the Shanghai audience, some touring from other UCCA locations.

Thomas Demand (born in Germany, 1964) is one of the most internationally renowned artists of his generation. He is acclaimed for his large-scale photographs, which explore the gap between reality and its representation.

Drawing on pre-existing images, he recreates life-size scenes, which he meticulously sculpts from paper and cardboard. He then photographs these models with a large format camera at “their peak of perfectness”. Afterwards, he destroys them, which he says, “… feels like some kind of liberation.”

The content of his compositions covers a broad spectrum from the political to the private. His artwork features iconic images such as the Oval Office, as well as everyday objects like airport-scanning devices and post-it notes. His artwork is often based on images from the mass media and documents our various media worlds – photography is merely the medium he uses to preserve and exhibit his compositions. As he puts it, “For me, it’s about what happens in front of and behind the camera that requires my attention more than the camera itself.” 

Demand’s reconstructive handling of images investigates to what extent the appearance of society is condensed into key images, and asks how this affects people’s perception of the world they live in. His treatment of scenes that appear to carry significance examines the conscious and self-conscious portrayal of society and its changes. 

Ultimately, the Berlin-based artist produces explores the boundaries between fiction and reality as he invites us to consider the way we understand the world.

Thomas Demand is one of the most acclaimed artists of his generation. His artwork has featured in major exhibitions across the world. His solo exhibitions include shows at Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2009), MUMOK, Vienna (2009), Sprüth Magers Gallery, London (2008), the Fondazione Prada, Venice (2007), the Serpentine Gallery, London (2006), the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2005), a retrospective at the Kunsthaus Bregenz (2004), and he represented Germany at the 26th Sao Paulo Biennale (2004).

Other recent solo shows include the Lenbachhaus, Munich, the Castelo de Rivoli, Turin, and the Dundee Contemporary Arts and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark. His work is represented in numerous museums and collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Guggenheim Museum, New York, and the Tate Modern, London and Tate Gallery, London and the New National Gallery, Berlin.

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