May 2015, Diane Smyth, British Journal of Photography
āThomas Mailaenderās forum and sphere of operations is less the art world than the rowdier public domain where events can easily run out of control,ā writes Ian Jeffrey, the respected photography critic. That rowdy sense of anarchy and fun is clearly on show in the French artistās current exhibition at Roman Road, which is punningly titled Solo Chaud.
With liberal use of sheets of white plastic, Mailaender has literally transformed the gallery into a white cube, and populated it with artwork culled from various recent projects ā a print on plasterboard, showing a man grabbing and photographing a bird, is taken from his Cyanotypes series; humorous press prints āframedā in roughly-shaped, brightly-coloured clay come from his Les Belles Images collection; large, roughly cut boards showing amateur snaps of everything from hapless plastic surgery fans to questionable bikini lines are relics from the Chicken Museum installation he created at Rencontres dāArles in 2011.
Behind the gallery, in owner Marisa Bellaniās home, more work is on display ā lumpen vases, a more traditional large-scale print, and what look like family photos. Many of the images come from the Mailaender Fun Archive, a collection of more than 10,000 photographs heās built up since he was a student. BJPās Diane Smyth caught up with Mailaender to learn more about the serious thinking behind his madness.
BJP: Where do you find the images you use?
TM: Iāve had the Fun Archive since 2000. Itās mostly found pictures from the internet, but I also have lots of friends who know Iām working with this kind of imagery, so they send pictures to me. Itās always amateur pictures; it always has something to do with performance, do-it-yourself, amateurism and also comic situations. Historical photography like the picture of the guy with the bird [from the Cyanotypes] is really a fun situation, but when you take it out of context it can become more political, and have stronger meanings about photography and how we consume it.
BJP: Are they just images that appeal to you? Itās quite esoteric.
TM: Yes, but I know this collection very well because I work a lot with it. Itās in my brain, itās a base to work on everything. Itās on hard drives, itās a collection of digital images, but the way I work with it, I make it physical. At some stage the pictures escape from non-reality to something more concrete.
PECKING ORDER: WHY THOMAS MAILAENDER IS BRINGING REAL CHICKENS INTO A GALLERY
May 2014, by Sean OāHagan, Guardian
I first came across French art prankster Thomas Mailaender's work at the Arles Photography Festival in 2011, when, as part of a group show called From Here On, he presented Chicken Museum.
It comprised a makeshift wooden building where funny or grotesque photographs were displayed, while real live chickens wandered around, pecking at the seed-strewn ground, and occasionally pausing to peruse an image. It was part funny and part disturbing ā perhaps a comment on the absurdity or collective idiocy of the traditional art gallery experience?
You can see for yourself when Chicken Show comes to London this week as part of a chicken-themed group exhibition at Roman Road, which, the gallery says, "raises awareness of the unconscious way we consume not only food, but also images and cultural goods."
Mailaender uses humour as provocation, making work that reveals the absurdity of the everyday and pokes fun at the pretensions of the art-photography world. He delights in hoaxes, pranks, elaborate and sometimes wilfully amateurish charades. On his website, the "About" section begins: "A recently deceased famous French critic once compared Thomas Mailaender's work to that of Bernd and Hilla Becher under the influence of Pastis, a local aniseed liquor popular in the south of France."
February 2012, by Bryony Quinn, Itās Nice That
French multimedia artist, Thomas Mailaender creates work that is fun and funny. He orchestrates strangeness and documents it in what he describes as āinsignificant, incidentally grotesque moments that possess an abrupt and unexpected monumentality.ā Like Cathedral Cars, the beyond ridiculous, sculpturally over-laden vehicles, portraits with really big things (pictured, Items) and a performance piece in which he deposited an āultrarealisticā and massive mussel shell on a beach then notified the local papers. Nice-Matin lead with: āA polyester monster: one mussel that will be hard to swallow.ā