World First Thomas Demand Project Turns Historic Sydney Building into "The Center of the Galaxy"

A major new installation by internationally renowned German artist Thomas Demand entitled The Dailies will be launched in an iconic Sydney CBD building this month. Free and open to the public from 23 March until 22 April 2012, the project is a world first for Sydney and represents the 25th Kaldor Public Art Project.

Thomas Demand will travel to Sydney to install 15 new photographic works into a unique environment, never before used to present an art exhibition. Demand’s project will transform an entire floor of the historic Commercial Travellers’ Association in the iconic MLC building, designed by Harry Seidler, in Sydney’s Martin Place.

According to the project press release, “The Dailies installation will use level four of the circular pod-shaped Commercial Travellers’ Association building on the Martin Place side of the MLC Centre. The installation will take-over 15 identical hotel rooms that revolve around a long circular corridor. In each of the rooms the artist will make changes and adjustments to the environment, with great subtlety and attention to detail. His photographic works (one hung in each room), recreate small fragments from the architecture and interiors of daily life – poetic details he describes as ‘The Dailies’ like rushes from films or daily newspapers.”

Demand describes his new works as “just a glimpse that starts to create a narrative”, sometimes only by coincidence, “as if time stood still or as if it were the centre of the galaxy”. Of his works he has said, “even if my objects look very true to reality, it’s only the discrepancies that make the real interesting,”

Working within the parameters of his now well-known technique, Demand created carefully formed paper and card sculptures, photographed and then destroyed them. His creations are based on things he saw and photographs he took while travelling and walking the street. Demand describes the series as like Haiku poetry, simple fragments strung together to inspire reflection.

Appearing like simple, instantaneous moments, The Dailies series are crafted with the utmost care and are printed using the labour-intensive dye-transfer technique that only a handful of specialists in the world can achieve. Dye-transfer printing is one of the oldest colour photographic processes, peerless for its richness, depth and fidelity and Demand has used some of the last remaining papers and materials of their kind to print his works via this rare technique, a method that will be soon unavailable for future generations of artists.

At first, the imposing presence and attention-seeking pose of the iconic Harry Seidler designed, mushroom shaped CTA building would seem an unlikely, even contradictory choice for the presentation of the photographs of German sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand which celebrate the banality of everyday clutter.  However, it soon becomes apparent that it’s the perfect location. 

The underwhelming domestic function of the amazing CTA building perfectly complements the combination of the ordinary and the extraordinary that make Demand’s images so intriguing.  Just as the artist’s painstaking recreation of everyday environments interrupts the banality of the subject of the photos, the uniqueness of the CTA building interrupts its mundane role as a hotel and club.

The installation, The Dailies, also includes collaborations with Miuccia Prada and US author Louis Begley (novels include: ‘Wartime Lies’, ‘The Man Who Was Late’ and ‘About Schmidt’).

Artinfo Australia recently caught up with John Kaldor AM, director of Kaldor Public Art Projects, to find out more about his involvement with the project.

How did you come to select Thomas Demand to be part of the Kaldor Public Art Project?

I started to collect Thomas's work in the early 90's.  Met him about 15 years ago and became good friends.  Spent time together in the Venice Biennale as he was doing a project for the Prada Foundation and I was Australian Commissioner of the Venice Biennale at the time. I have also seen major exhibitions of Thomas's at MOMA in New York and the Serpentine in London.

What do you hope the people of Sydney will gain from visiting this installation?

I believe the Thomas Demand Dailies is one of our best projects.  It is the most intriguing, intelligent and actual project.  It combines architecture and art in a unique way.  Louis Begley's text and Prada's scent add additional dimension to the work.

How did you come to decide on the fourth floor of the MLC building? 

It was Thomas's decision.  He admired Harry Seidler's architecture.

For more information on the project see

To see images of Thomas Demand's 'The Dailies' project, click on the slide show.