Critics’ Picks

Yard (35 MM), 2001.

Berlin

Thomas Demand

Esther Schipper
Potsdamer Strasse 81E
January 18–March 16, 2002

Thomas Demand returns to 35 mm film to chronicle yet another world media event: Slobodan Milosevic’s arrival at the United Nations prison in The Hague, where he is currently awaiting trial for war crimes. Hof/Yard, 2001, Demand’s third film in three years, does not offer any images of the former leader of Serbia and Yugoslavia, or of the mass media entourage that photographed him in the courtyard. Instead, as in Brueghel’s Fall of Icarus, the focus here is on the banal landscape surrounding the fall. In this careful reenactment, one sees a wall, a fence, and shrubs—all filmed with a shifting depth of field. Unlike the artist’s photographs, the film holds traces of a distinctly human presence. The scene is illuminated by intermittent flashes from photographers’ cameras, which can also be heard clicking away. Indeed, one hears the film before seeing it, since Demand has added an awkward corridor leading to the exhibition room. The sequence—which lasts only ninety seconds but is endlessly repeated—might recall a fragment from a TV murder-mystery series. Yet, entering and watching Demand’s media landscape, one gets the eerie feeling not only that a crime has been committed, but also that its horrors are so great they can only be imagined.