September 17, 2009

Romero, Mies, Demand

Fernando Romero is in Berlin, and we had lunch together today. He was talking about Thomas Demand, an artist I didn't know, because this afternoon was the vernissage of his new exhibition in the Neue Nationalgalerie of Mies.

Since I practically lived in Berlin's Brain on a daily basis for a couple of years, I showed him the building. That was the first time I visited the library with an architect, and his sight was, of course, very different from mine. Not only the sight, but also the experience: architects are much more interested in materials than us, non-architects, so they are touching everything. There are for instance those short walls, which I never took seriously, and if you had asked me, I would had said they were made of some synthetic plastic or so. But no! They are pure steel.

The next idea was to see the new museum by David Chipperfield, but the taxi driver blew it up. And then, well, in the evening, I went to Demand's exhibition. I had no idea, but it is ok. He is making little models based on old pictures he has found on newspapers. The models are made of paper, mostly. But in a perfect way. Without people, without brand names, without letters. Emptiness. Just the objects and the colors. Then he makes a picture of them, prints it out in real format, so the result is that you see a bathtub in which you would like to have a bath, but there is something strange about it. Demand is a very cultivated artist, so every single picture has a solid intellectual background, going from photophobia to the concept of memory according to Proust or Beckett.

This was an architectural day, in all senses, from big, great buildings like Foster's or Mies' to small models by Demand, whose exhibition, by the way, paradoxically blocks the emptiness of the building, he, the artist who is so concerned about emptiness. Strange.

Corrigenda: I have been reading about this exhibition, and it seems that the idea of hanging those curtains in the Neue Nationalgaleria was, actually, Mies' own proposal.

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