Among the photographs and the video that will be on display at Thomas Demand’s opening at Matthew Marks Gallery on May 5 is an image that may be familiar, if you happen to be someone who follows TMZ.com. The photograph, entitled “Junior Suite,” is a relatively precise recreation of one posted on TMZ a few hours after Whitney Houston’s death earlier this year: the singer’s last meal, not finished, still on the room service tray. To create the still life (pardon the tragic pun), Demand checked into a room at the Beverly Hilton that had the same floor plan as the one in which Houston died, ordered the same food as she had, and arranged it according to the tabloid photo.
The image is a more polished version of the one on TMZ.com, which is presumably a crime scene photograph taken by police officers, and this polish is precisely what gives the piece its eerie quality. “I don’t have anything to say about Whitney Houston,” Demand told the New York Times, but I suspect he has some feelings about the singer –– or at least about celebrity. After all he does read TMZ.
Thomas Demand, May 5 – June 23, 2012, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York