Indepth Arts News: |
"Douglas Gordon: New Works and Off-Site Projects"
2002-03-09 until 2002-06-23
Vancouver Art Gallery
Douglas Gordon, widely recognized as one of the most important artists of his
generation, is best known for his video installations, which take as their subjects classic Hollywood films
such as Psycho and The Searchers. Opening March 9, 2002 at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Douglas
Gordon is the first major survey of the Scottish artist's work in Canada.
Curated by Russell Ferguson, formerly Associate Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los
Angeles, and currently UCLA Hammer Museum deputy director of exhibitions and programs and chief
curator, Douglas Gordon examines the artist's exploration of themes including trust, guilt, confession,
deception and doubling, which weave their way throughout his diverse career. Many of his works are
strongly related to cinema and he has utilized material ranging from cult films to amateur videos and
medical documentaries. Seemingly familiar images are often disrupted by the use of extreme slow motion
and by unexpected reversals and doublings. Gordon consistently uses found imagery to explore issues of
memory and individual identity. Taking advantage of the fictional aspect of the visual media, he
examines the duality of human nature. Many of Gordon's works are based on dichotomies - passion and
angst, hate and love, seduction and violence, life and death, perception and memory.
Douglas Gordon is one of the most important artists working today, said Grant Arnold, Vancouver Art
Gallery Curator. His compelling use of cinema and photography to examine the intersection of memory,
imagination and the external world finds common ground with interests that inform a great deal of art
making in Vancouver.
Douglas Gordon is best known for film installations that feature classic films by directors such as Alfred
Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese and Otto Preminger. In Through a Looking Glass (1999), for instance,
Gordon projects the famous scene from Scorsese's Taxi Driver (in which Robert De Niro's character,
Travis Bickle, repeats the words You talkin' to meNULL to his mirrored reflection, and draws a gun) onto
two facing walls of a darkened room. Gordon amplifies the scene's disturbing effect by pitting the two
Travises against each other, with the viewer caught in the crossfire.
The dark undercurrents found in the film projections recur in photographic works such as
Tattoo (for Reflection) (1997), a photograph of a man's back tattooed with the word Guilty. The word is
inscribed backwards on his left shoulder but is legible in the reflection of an adjacent mirror. Trust is the
subject of works such as Tattoo (I) and Tattoo (II) (both 1994), photographs in which the phrase Trust
Me is shown tattooed on the artist's arm. One is not sure if the words are those of a close confidant or
the utterance of a con man.
Comprised of video, text and photographic works, Douglas Gordon is the most comprehensive exhibition
of the artist's work to date and provides a thorough introduction to Gordon's practice.
Self-portrait as Kurt Cobain, as Andy Warhol, as
Myra Hindley, as Marilyn Monroe (detail), 1996