Through photography, film and installation, the Canadian artist Stan Douglas has, since the late-1980s, examined complex intersections of narrative, fact and fiction while scrutinising the constructs of the media he employs and their influence on our understanding of reality. Douglas's work is often in the first instance an examination of place - Potsdam, Cuba and Detroit have provided the impetus for, respectively, Der Sandmann (1995), Inconsolable Memories (2005) and Le Détroit (1999) - but entangled with the detail of specific geographical and political circumstance is a diverse range of source material that has included the writings of Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett, Theodor W. Adorno and ETA Hoffmann, along with the films of Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles.Read More
While we may recognise the literary, filmic or musical references, along with the stories, places or even characters appropriated in these complex works, expectations are often frustrated. Instead of narrative fulfilment, Douglas offers us complexity, perplexity and doubt. The artist has remarked that 'life is all middle' and in Douglas's work the viewer often finds himself plunged into events whose beginnings are obscured and whose ends seem to dissolve into mutability. For instance, the films Journey Into Fear (2001), which makes reference to Eric Ambler's 1940s spy novel as well as Herman Melville's 1857 novel The Confidence Man, and Klatsassin (2006), which by referring to Akira Kurosawa's 1950 film Rashomon reveals details of a murder in nineteenth-century British Columbia through a series of sometimes contradictory flashbacks and anecdotes, unfolding over many days. Both are examples of Douglas's 'recombinant' works - sequences of imagery and dialogue generated by computer as permutations that are capable of running without repetition for timespans way in excess of the conventional art-viewing experience. As such, the works unmoor themselves from formal requirements of narrative and expectations of authorship as they liberate the viewer to reflect on the contingencies of truth in the wider world. It is no coincidence that Douglas often chooses to locate his work where failures of political and social systems are most apparent. His critical eye focused on events that could have taken a very different turn, Douglas attunes us to the possibility of alternative outcomes.
Born in Vancouver in 1960, Stan Douglas has been the subject of numerous solo and group exhibitions at prominent institutions worldwide. Recent venues have included Haus der Kunst, Munich (Stan Douglas: Mise en scène, 2014, solo); Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria (Art/Histories, 2014); Carré d'Art - Musée d'Art Contemporain, Nîmes (Stan Douglas: Photography 2008, 2013, solo); Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota (New Pictures 7: Stan Douglas: Then and Now, 2013, solo); Moscow Photobiennale 2013 (Stan Douglas: Midcentury Studio, 2013); Bildmuseet, Umeå, Sweden (Theatrical Fields, 2013); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection and The Way of the Shovel: Art as Archaeology, both 2013); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (XL: 19 New Acquisitions in Photography, 2013); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, (Blues for Smoke, 2012, travelling to Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (The Living Years: Art after 1989, 2012); ZKM/Museum für Neue Kunst, Karlsruhe (Fast Forward 2: The Power of Motion, 2010); and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (Haunted: Contemporary Photography/ Video/ Performance, 2010).
Reporting from the 59th Venice Biennale, we review some of this year's national pavilion highlights at the Arsenale and Giardini.Read More Ocula News Which Artists Are Showing at Venice Biennale 2022? Venice, 17 December 2021
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Don’t you wonder sometimes, ’bout sound and vision?” David Bowie, ever the trailblazer, perfectly expressed the impulse behind this show back in 1977. The Infinite Mix, a Hayward Gallery pop-up staged while its South Bank home is being refurbished, features 10 video installations in which artists, mostly from the UK, Europe and...Read More Related Press Unlimited section at Art Basel in Basel to include El Anatsui, Stan Douglas et al. 29 April 2016, ARTNews
Unlimited, the Art Basel platform allotted for large-scale and unconventional artworks, will be showing a record 88 projects from participating galleries this year. Gianni Jetzer, curator-at-large at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, is heading the section for the fifth year in a row.Read More Related Press Stan Douglas reimagines a Joseph Conrad spy novel in 1970s Portugal 16 March 2016, Hyperallergic
LONDON — Canadian artist Stan Douglas is known for appropriating film and literature genres to create context for his elaborate mise-en-scènes and sophisticated projects. His latest video, The Secret Agent (2015), recently premiered in the UK at the Victoria Miro gallery, following the exhibition Interregnum at WIELS Contemporary Art Centre...Read More Related Press Stan Douglas at Victoria Miro, London 14 March 2016, Flash Art
Stan Douglas’s new video installation The Secret Agent comprises six projectors and screens arranged in two facing lines of three, with the audience occupying the space between. While watching Douglas’s espionage drama, audience members turn 180 degrees as action or dialogue shifts from one side of the auditorium to the other. At...Read More