Photos by Thomas Demand. Numerous contributing writers.
Walther Konig, Koln, 2007. 224 pp., 40 color illustrations, 9½x6½".
Stairs, ladders and lifts are the motifs of Thomas Demand's latest monograph, L'Esprit d'Escalier, which is published on the occasion of his show at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. The title actually refers to so-called 'staircase wit,' that concise French expression for the chagrin of missed retorts-those hapless comebacks one only ever thinks up belatedly (i.e. when already descending the stairs): 'I should've said (fill in blank)!' etc. One of Demand's ironic allusions to his title is a new work titled 'Landing,' which shows the shards of broken Qing vases on a staircase-a mishap caused by a visitor to The Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge in January 2006, who stumbled on his shoelaces and crashed into the three eighteenth-century vases, smashing them to pieces. As ever, Demand combines conceptual rigor and exacting craft in his painstakingly re-created sets, with their eerie edge of artifice. L'Esprit d'Escalier presents an overview of his current work in 23 large photographs, plus a film project and an architectural installation specially prepared for his Irish Museum exhibition. Alongside an excerpt from David Foster Wallace's Girl with Curious Hair, it also includes commissioned writings by Dave Eggers, Paul Oliver, Caoimhín Mac Giolla Leith, Rachael Thomas and Enrique Juncosa.
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