Thomas Demand on photographing Azzedine Alaïa’s archive

Thomas Demand, wren, 2020, pigment print, 42 3/4 x 56 1/2".

Owning beforehand thought of architects including Hans Hollein and John Lautner, Thomas Desire now turns to the do the job of the late vogue designer Azzedine Alaïa for “Model Research,” on see at Matthew Marks Gallery in Los Angeles as a result of April 9, 2022. The exhibition is composed of four significant photographs taken in Alaïa’s archive: designs employed by the French couturier and his studio to make and remake his garments acknowledged for their tight, exacting types. Our discussion spanned queries of craft, translation, and types both equally actual physical and conceptual. We spoke above sandwiches in Santa Monica.

Right after AZZEDINE ALAÏA Handed Away in 2017, his basis invited me to come and photograph his desk. That was not genuinely for me. I imagined I would not do it justice, as I could not increase anything to what was there currently. But I noticed these designs hanging about. I had been wanting at styles of clothes for a extensive time, as properly as outfits workshops wherever they have these patterns hanging, specially in leather-based fabrication. They remind me of Duchamp’s rulers in A few Normal Stoppages, the accidental curve. So these curving designs in Alaïa’s workshop function as a type of ruler for their garments. It is quite abstract. You really do not see a T-shirt there or a gown or jacket, but you see the elements.

A particular thing with Alaïa was that he manufactured all his styles himself. He would make a sample with a design and slash them and then a member of his workshop would translate them to distinct sizes. But the initially pattern of the jacket he would do himself, and he would assemble the initial objects of clothing. It would always be extremely muted, black, possibly purple or with a very little bit of pattern, but ultimately it wouldn’t be about designs or color, it would usually be about product and how a piece of clothes can be produced. In that perception it is quite architectural. The opportunity of this clothes was quite intriguing to me.

I remember when I observed his designs in shops, they would be challenging to get and incredibly high-priced, but you would never have the emotion of marketplace-pushed calculation. You could explain to that they ended up objects handmade in Paris, coming from his workshop. It would be an wonderful factor, even for an individual who is not an skilled in style.

The procedure of translation is an significant factor for me, as is the factor of refinement. That is, that a do the job is not derived from an arbitrary notion, one particular adhering to the following, but that it comes from a extensive method of mastership: in this circumstance why a individual bow is exactly where it is, why the seam sits in this article and not around there, exactly where everyone else may possibly put it. It is invention and a quite outdated design of craftsmanship. But in the conclude, you can not make a one dress from my pictures. It falls wholly again into an summary impression of a little something you assume you have an understanding of.

What my photos of interiors all have in common is a specified existence. The sensation that a person has just remaining the place, or that somebody will arrive again around the corner in a next. Like when you go in a store and there’s nobody there, you think, “I could acquire every little thing I want.” There is a form of fragility to the instant. At the main of this is the observation that if you have a photograph of any place, and you have two folks in the photograph, it’s all about these two people today in the space. If you have a photograph of the same area with no the men and women, it’s about you occupying the space, your head, your brain, you your self imagining what it’s like to be there.

With these more recent photographs, there is the presence of Alaïa. He’s quite existing in the cutouts and the drawings and every single mark on the objects. But at the exact same time, the intention of these designs is absent. I would not say you can see an arm in it or something. But you can see a little bit of development, a purposefulness. You can convey to that these are not shapes to make a house. They’re not styles to become a chair. I feel folks quickly recognize that this is not the technological drawing of an architect, simply because of its fluidity. There’s a feeling that everything is a pattern for something bigger to appear.