Thomas Mailaender is generally recognized as a photographer although in reality he employs a wide range of media including ceramic, cyanotype and collage. He is both a collector and archivist and as an insatiable enthusiast of the image, practices his own form of “appropriationism” in both digital and analog fields. He surfs the Internet fishing for “pearls” and digs up photos from the press of yesteryear, from old publications and bric-a-brac sales, which he stores, classifies and digests, before regurgitating them using montage, drawing on prints, playing with their register, enlarging them or associating them with various objects. He has assembled a vast collection—“The Fun Archaeology”—a kind of archaeological study of the worst of the contemporary world, whose documents highlight the vernacular richness of their language and their accidental poetry. Thomas Mailaender’s entire oeuvre ponders the question of taste, finding answers on the cutting edge of kitsch, amateurism and vulgarity, taking in both the comic and the sentimental.
Amongst his many solo shows, Thomas Mailaender enjoyed his first retrospective exhibition in a European museum with “The Fun Archive” at the NRWForum in Düsseldorf in 2017. His works have featured in exhibitions held by important art institutions and in international shows, such as the MoMA in San Francisco (“Don’t! Photography” and “Art of Mistakes” organized by Clément Chéroux), the Saatchi Gallery and the Tate Modern in London, the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and the Rencontres d’Arles. He has published a number of art books and was awarded a residency by LVMH Métiers d’Art. He has also curated several exhibitions including “Hara Kiri” (Rencontres d’Arles, 2016) and “Photo Pleasure Palace” with Erik Kessels (Unseen, Amsterdam, 2017).