GUsually one does not recommend taking a flight for an exhibition. This time it has to be, especially since the destination is in the low-incidence Cantabrian Santander, with the Spanish Rothenburg ob der Tauber Santillana del Mar and ten world heritage caves full of paintings and prehistoric carvings such as Altamira and La Garma in the immediate vicinity. In fact, the exhibition in question is not insignificantly about the city of Santander and the spaceship designed by the Genoese architect Renzo Piano, which landed a few years ago on the pier and is clad with round mother-of-pearl tiles.
In his show “Mundo de Papel”, the Munich artist Thomas Demand, curatorially supported by the former director of the Berlin New National Gallery Udo Kittelmann, creates, as always, a photographed “world made of paper” that is second to none. He placed six large, completely differently designed wooden pavilions, built by the stage designers of the Berlin Opera, plus an enchanted maze of suspended walls, some of which were broken up by Matta Clark-like window cuts, with “dailies” shot like visual haikus in the huge hall of the Centro Botín one. Or rather lets it float, because as in the original Nationalgalerie planning by Mies van der Rohe, the large wooden pavilions hang from the ceiling of the exhibition hall on almost invisible steel cables. You are thus in a similarly precarious equilibrium as the entire two-part building, which has no base, but only rests on columns, as it were, as thin as a toothpick.
The homely character of the word “Klause” is terribly thwarted
All these fixtures, however, have a direct relationship to Santander and its surroundings, so that the pictures in them now hold a double secret: the pavilion with the five-part series “Klause”, for example, shows Burbach’s tavern, meticulously recreated in paper and cardboard, in which the five-year-old Pascal was abused and disappeared, but his body has not been found to this day, so that no one was responsible to date. The most monumental picture in the series opens up a voyeuristic view of the kitchen of the restaurant that has presumably become a crime scene, which, as always with Demand and his team, has been recreated down to the smallest detail using original photos:
A coffee machine in the background still seems to be simmering (the filter coffee itself is so convincingly inlaid with black construction paper in the transparent paper jug that you will involuntarily thirst for coffee), the 1970s orange ashtray with many matching lighters is just as ready as the scotch tape on its roll and various knives. Shining dangerously sharp, the metal disk of the bread slicer juts into the interior from the left, while sad streamers hang down above the bar on the right as an alibi for thigh-knocking happiness to the brooks of Asbach Uralt. The sterile tidiness suggests that no categorical distinction would be made here between the cutting up of game and humans.
To the right of this image of the banality of evil that has become paper, hangs a houseplant that has apparently long since perished and its leaves are even more convincing due to the paperiness of its leaves, as if the years of nicotine plumes of the inn had finally put an end to it. On the outer wall of the pover wooden shed, in turn, the photo of the equally simple outer wall of the lonely “hermitage” is attached. The white of the rough plaster wall is almost invisible through hundreds of ivy leaves laboriously cut from green paper – it is a nightmarish witch’s house like Hansel and Gretel’s, which is covered by the poisonous and, due to its evergreen, always somewhat eerie plant like gingerbread.
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