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Stan Douglas
A detail view of a photograph by Stan Douglas, dated 1994-2005

Stan Douglas, Potsdamer Schrebergärten (Potsdam Gardens Portfolio), 1994-2005 (detail)

September 24, 2022–January 15, 2023

Potsdamer Schrebergärten is the title of Stan Douglas’ photographic series, as well as his exhibition at DAS MINSK Kunsthaus in Potsdam. Created in Potsdam at the beginning of the 90s, the series will be shown together with the film Der Sandmann (1995).

During his one-year residency with the DAAD in Berlin, Stan Douglas captured the city of Potsdam immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall in documentary form: Sacrow, the area around Sanssouci, and the Schlaatz housing estate. This series Potsdamer Schrebergärten (1994/95) captures moments of transition: an abandoned dacha, a former wall fence, gardens that have since disappeared; a “Trabbi” (an East German–produced car) parked before a Kleingarten site. This early series already reveals a theme that Stan Douglas also explores in his later photographs: how cities change over time and how history leaves its traces in the urban landscape, whether in Detroit or Vancouver or in Potsdam. After shooting the photographs in the Schrebergärten, which seem like a typological study, Douglas reconstructed the Schrebergärten in a film studio, so that the garden, even if recreated, becomes a site of artistic production. 

The film Der Sandmann consists of a double projection and deals with a “doubled” garden—a Kleingarten at different points in German history, before and after the fall of the Wall. The protagonist Nathanael, a Black German from the former GDR, explains in a letter how a childhood experience in a Potsdam Schrebergarten catches up with him when he revisits the scene twenty years later, after the reunification. Der Sandmann is a film about identity, between memory and repression, and is a film about Doppelgänger, also in German-German history. 

Learn more at DAS MINSK Kunsthaus.

 
A detail of a photo by Stan Douglas, titled A Luta Continua, 1974, dated 2012.

Stan Douglas, A Luta Continua, 1974, 2012 (detail)

Stan Douglas will be in conversation with aabaakwad, an indigenous delegation to the 59th Biennale di Venezia that is associated with the Sámi Pavilion, on Friday, April 22, at 12:00 PM, alongside artists Sonia Boyce, Zineb Sedira, Yuki Kihara, and moderated by iniva artistic director Sepake Angiama. The event will take place at the Don Orione Cultural Centre, and will focus on the following question: “What is nation?”

Organized by iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) in partnership with aabaakwad, the talk is a part of DRIFT, a post-national digital pavilion that troubles the notion of working within the constructions of nation and nationhood. This conversation will open up the possibility of thinking about moving beyond boundaries and borders of land and water and thinking through what is carried in the body to m/otherlands to forge post-national identities, communities, and formations of new fluid subjectivities.
 
The event is free and guests will be welcomed on a first come, first served basis. Learn more at iniva.

A photo of Stan Douglas on set in Cairo by Seham, dated 2021.

Stan Douglas on set in Cairo, 2021. Photo ©️ Seham

The Vancouver-based artist will represent Canada at the 59th Venice Biennale. Stan Douglas is recognized as one of the country’s most acclaimed contemporary artists whose multidisciplinary works, including films, photographs, and, more recently, theater productions, often reflect on the dynamic potential embedded in pivotal historical moments.

The exhibition unfolds across two venues in Venice, a first for Canada’s presentation at the Biennale Arte. Four large-scale photographs will be shown in the Canada Pavilion in the Giardini, and a major new two-channel video installation will be presented in the Magazzini del Sale No. 5, a sixteenth-century salt warehouse on Dorsoduro.

Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848 is inspired by the tenth anniversary of 2011, a year that saw significant social and political unrest around the globe including the Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East, the Occupy protests that began in New York, the widespread unrest in the UK in response to austerity measures, as well as a riot in the artist’s hometown of Vancouver following a hockey final.

Douglas’s exhibition draws a comparison between the events of 2011 and those of 1848, a year in which continent-wide upheaval found European middle and working classes allied in a fight against a lack of democratic freedoms, restrictions on the press, and the continued dominance of an aristocratic elite. Revolt in 1848 was continental, as news spread by print media, but revolt in 2011 was global, with news spread virally by way of electronic media. Across Europe and North America the events of 2011 were simply policed and ignored. In North Africa and the Middle East they were suppressed or subverted, with a few notable exceptions. The works explore the events of 2011 as unconscious reactions to the economic and political status quo which followed the recession of 2008, and examine the ways in which social media fueled movements for change.

Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848 is curated by Reid Shier and accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with texts by Erika Balsom, Ma’an Abu Taleb, George E. Lewis and Samir Gandesha. 

La Biennale di Venezia is the largest and most prestigious contemporary art exhibition in the world with more than 80 countries participating. For more than 60 years, the Canada Pavilion, situated in the Giardini in Venice, has featured the work of the most accomplished Canadian artists, curated by the country’s most renowned curators. Douglas’s work has previously featured in the Venice Biennale in 1990, 2001, 2005, and 2019.

The 59th Biennale di Venezia takes place from April 23 to November 27, 2022.

Learn more from the National Gallery of Canada.

Installation view of the exhibition titled Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives, at the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art in Montréal, dated 2022.

Installation view, Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives, PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montréal, 2022

Installation view, Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives, PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montréal, 2022

Installation view of the exhibition titled Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives, at the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art in Montréal, dated 2022.

Installation view, Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives, PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montréal, 2022

Installation view, Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives, PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montréal, 2022

Installation view of the exhibition titled Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives, at the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art in Montréal, dated 2022.

Installation view, Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives, PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montréal, 2022

Installation view, Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives, PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montréal, 2022

Installation view of the exhibition titled Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives, at the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art in Montréal, dated 2022.

Installation view, Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives, PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montréal, 2022

Installation view, Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives, PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montréal, 2022

Installation view of the exhibition titled Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives, at the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art in Montréal, dated 2022.

Installation view, Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives, PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montréal, 2022

Installation view, Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives, PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montréal, 2022

For over thirty years, Stan Douglas has devoted his work to the investigation of the image; the technologies of their making, their aesthetic languages and their dynamics of power. Through photo, film and video installation, television, theatre, mobile applications and many other digital media technologies, he delves into the recreation of moments in history at a cultural, social and political tipping point, to reveal multiple and divergent narratives in meticulous detail.

The exhibition at the PHI Foundation, titled Revealing Narratives, will present the Canadian premiere of Douglas’s most recent photo series Penn Station's Half Century (2021) and Disco Angola (2012), a series of photos that will be presented in Québec for the first time.

Penn Station's Half Century was commissioned by the Empire State Development in partnership with Public Art Fund, on the occasion of the dedication of New York City’s new Moynihan Train Hall. Douglas worked with a researcher who rifled through thousands of newspapers and periodicals to select nine historic moments that took place in New York’s original Pennsylvania Station between 1914 and 1957, before it was demolished to make way for Madison Square Garden. Among these selected events is March 1, 1914, when a large number of vaudeville performers staged an impromptu show after being stranded at the station by a severe snowstorm. Another was August 7, 1934, when liberated Black labour organizer Angelo Herndon, who had been arrested for the possession of Communist literature arrived at the station to the greeting of thousands of well-wishers.

Made with a hybrid of CG imagery and staged photography, these scenes were re-created by Douglas over a four-day shoot in Vancouver, which involved over four hundred actors who were scanned and redressed in one of five hundred unique period costumes, before being posed digitally. Douglas arranged these nine vignettes into thematic panels, which are presented in the Foundation’s 465 Saint-Jean Street galleries.

With the series Disco Angola, Douglas takes on the persona of a fictional photojournalist living in New York City in the 1970s, who is a regular in the emerging disco scene and travels back and forth to Angola to cover the civil war. The works in the series are dated from 1974 and 1975, which was a critical period for the global political economy, marked by an oil crisis, a global market crash and increasingly strained relations between the US and Soviet Union. It is out of this bleak historical context that disco evolved. This important genre inspired by funk and soul music became heavily embraced by New York City’s Black, Latinx and queer communities as a joyful expression of emancipation from oppression. Douglas’s alter ego would travel back and forth to Angola to chronicle the country’s struggle for liberation from Portuguese rule.

Through intense research into archival photographs, period costumes and decor, Douglas crafted “snapshots” from each of these locations. The series consists of eight, large-scale panoramic photographs, four based in Angola and four in New York, which Douglas arranged into specific pairings that put forth a multitude of contrasts and comparisons.

In a time of "fake news" and our own experiences with historical uncertainty, these two series are tethered by Douglas’s steadfast exploration of the many conceptual, formal, and technical rigors of the image, to assert that there is always more than one side to a story.

Stan Douglas will represent Canada at this year’s 59th Venice Biennale, taking place from April 23 to November 27, 2022.

The exhibition Revealing Narratives will travel to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax following its Montréal debut.

A photograph by Stan Douglas, dated 2020

Stan Douglas, 20 June 1957, 2021 (detail)

Since the late 1980s, photography has been a central focus of Stan Douglas’s practice. Penn Station’s Half Century (2021) represents Douglas’s most ambitious exploration of the medium to date. Made with a hybrid of CG and staged photography, the series examines how history manifests in specific places and transitional moments in society.

Studio: Stan Douglas

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A panel by Stan Douglas, titled  22 April 1924 and 7 August 1934, from Penn Station’s Half Century, 2020.

Stan Douglas, 22 April 1924 and 7 August 1934, from Penn Station’s Half Century, 2020. Commissioned by Empire State Development in partnership with Public Art Fund for Moynihan Train Hall. Photo by Nicholas Knight

Join Stan Douglas for a conversation hosted by Public Art Fund about his new permanent public commission Penn Station’s Half Century, 2020, a photographic series that reconstructs nine remarkable but forgotten moments from the history of the original Pennsylvania Station (1910–1963).

Thursday, January 28, 5 PM
RSVP here

On January 1, 2021, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the opening of the new Moynihan Train Hall, along with three unprecedented site-specific art installations by Stan Douglas, artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, and Kehinde Wiley, counted among the most innovative and revered artists working today. As part of the Governor’s visionary transformation of the nation’s busiest transportation hub, the artworks are commissioned through a partnership between Empire State Development (New York State’s economic development agency) and Public Art Fund (the leading non-profit that commissions and presents art in public spaces). A testament to New York’s creativity, diversity, and richly layered heritage, the three monumental commissions complement the new cutting-edge Train Hall, while embracing its civic character. Offering the public a fresh perspective on the history and grandeur of the original Pennsylvania Station and James A. Farley Post Office, Douglas’s, Elmgreen & Dragset’s, and Wiley’s installations bring a sense of wonder and humanity to these public spaces, and will evoke civic pride and delight for generations to come.

Douglas's work, titled Penn Station’s Half Century, draws on archival research to reconstruct nine remarkable but forgotten moments from the history of the original Pennsylvania Station (1910–1963) that capture the serendipity and poignancy of daily life. These vivid evocations of the city’s forgotten history include Bert Williams (singer, comedian, and the first African-American to direct a motion picture) instigating an impromptu vaudeville show with fellow performers stranded in the station during an epic snow storm of 1914, the final moments of affection between soldiers and their loved ones before being deployed in 1941 for duty during World War II, and the soundstage from director Vincente Minnelli’s 1944 love story The Clock, staring Judy Garland.

Douglas photographed live actors in period costume and seamlessly combined them with digitally recreated interiors of the demolished station. The resulting images pay tribute to McKim, Mead & White’s original station, and to the layers of human experience that bring our civic spaces to life. The series of photographic panels are located within four seating alcoves in The Ticketed Waiting Room. 

All permanent installations will be on view when the new Train Hall opens January 1, 2021.

Read more in The New York Times

A photograph of the Arsenale building in Venice.

May 11– November 24, 2019

Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Carol Bove, and Stan Douglas were included in the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Curated by Ralph Rugoff, Director of the Hayward Gallery in London, the exhibition was titled May You Live in Interesting Times. “In a speech given in the late 1930s,” Rogoff states, “British MP Sir Austen Chamberlain invoked an ancient Chinese curse that he had learned of from a British diplomat who had served in Asia, and which took the curious form of saying, ‘May you live in interesting times.’ ‘There is no doubt that the curse has fallen on us,’ Chamberlain observed. ‘We move from one crisis to another. We suffer one disturbance and shock after another.’ This summary sounds uncannily familiar today as the news cycle spins from crisis to crisis. Yet at a moment when the digital dissemination of fake news and 'alternative facts' is corroding political discourse and the trust on which it depends, it is worth pausing whenever possible to reassess our terms of reference. In this case it turns out that there never was any such ‘ancient Chinese curse,’ despite the fact that Western politicians have made reference to it in speeches for over a hundred years. It is an ersatz cultural relic, and yet for all its fictional status it has had real rhetorical effects in significant public exchanges. At once suspect and rich in meaning, this kind of uncertain artefact suggests potential lines of exploration that are worth pursuing at present, especially when the ‘interesting times’ it evokes seem to be with us once again. Hence the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia will be titled after a counterfeit curse.... in an indirect fashion, perhaps art can be a kind of guide for how to live and think in ‘interesting times.’ The 58th International Art Exhibition will not have a theme per se, but will highlight a general approach to making art and a view of art’s social function as embracing both pleasure and critical thinking. The Exhibition will focus on the work of artists who challenge existing habits of thought and open up our readings of objects and images, gestures and situations. Art of this kind grows out of a practice of entertaining multiple perspectives: of holding in mind seemingly contradictory and incompatible notions, and juggling diverse ways of making sense of the world.”

Discover further exhibitions by gallery artists in and around Venice.

Image: Arsenale, Venice. Photo by Andrea Avezzù. Courtesy La Biennale de Venezia

Christopher Phillips gave a guided tour at the gallery of Stan Douglas: DCTs and Scenes from the Blackout. The exhibition presented works from Douglas’s two recent series, DCT (2016–ongoing) and Blackout (2017), that together illustrate the artist’s overarching interest in the nature of photographic representation and its relationship to reality.

Friday, April 6, 5 PM
525 West 19th Street, New York

Christopher Phillips is guest curator at The Walther Collection and adjunct professor in the Department of Photography and Imaging at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. He contributed a text to Stan Douglas: Midcentury Studio, published on the occasion of Douglas’s tenth solo presentation at David Zwirner in 2011.

This guided tour coincided with The Photography Show presented by the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD).

February 16, 2018
 
Anthology Film Archives in New York showed Stan Douglas’s early works Television Spots (1987–1988) and Monodramas (1991) as part of a new screening series called ON THE AIR: ARTIST TELEVISION.

Curated by Rebecca Cleman from Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) and Ava Tews at Anthology Film Archives, the February 16 program of ON THE AIR presents works created by artists for public television, and also includes films by Ernie Kovacs, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Chris Burden, Dara Birnbaum, and others. The series is being presented in conjunction with the exhibition Broadcasting: EAI at ICA at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia (February 2–March 25, 2018).

Douglas’s Television Spots were originally made to be inserted in fifteen- to thirty-second-long slots between the advertisements on a private Canadian television network. The twelve short video sequences were shown on a nightly basis and without any introduction, and feature narrative fragments unfolding in ordinary or banal settings. Similarly, the artist’s Monodramas feature brief, dislocated events—a car and a school bus nearly collide at an intersection, only to drive away; a pedestrian on the street greets an Afro-Canadian man who responds, "I’m not Gary."

As the artist told Roxana Marcoci in an interview after winning the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography in 2016, "Early projects like the Television Spots and Monodramas were all about an alienation effect, putting an irritant into broadcast television by means of these counterfeit advertisements to make people look at the context around the ads in a different way."

Image: Stan Douglas, still from Monodramas, 1991

Stan Douglas

Lacquered UV ink on gessoed panel
59 1/8 x 59 1/8 inches (150 x 150 cm)

Stan Douglas

Digital C-print mounted on aluminum
71 x 101 1/2 inches (180.3 x 257.8 cm)

Stan Douglas

Digital fiber print mounted on Dibond aluminum
18 x 17 3/4 inches (45.7 x 45.1 cm)

Stan Douglas was the recipient of the 2016 Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography. In celebration of the honor, an exhibition of Douglas's work was presented at the Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg, Sweden. The exhibition was his first in the country and featured new abstract works, as well as an overview of past series and key iconic photographs.

In addition, MACK published a new book about Douglas's practice. The publication features a newly commissioned essay by Noam Elcott, Associate Professor at Columbia University, as well as an interview with Stan Douglas by Roxana Marcoci, Senior Curator at Museum of Modern Art, New York and Chair of the 2016 Hasselblad Award Jury.

Roxana Marcoci, Senior Curator of Photography at MoMA, New York and Chair of the 2016 Hasselblad Award Jury, says of Douglas's work:

Douglas's engagement with the histories of still and moving images, sociological approach to staged and performative work, and critical attention to the apparatus of photography—in terms of historic styles, processes and vintage equipment, and the most sophisticated digital languages of contemporary technology—are transformational.

Pictured above: Selected works from the Hasselblad exhibition

Stan Douglas's innovative stage presentation Helen Lawrence was created in collaboration with screenwriter and producer Chris Haddock and director Kim Collier. Inspired by post-war Film Noir, Helen Lawrence intertwines theatre, visual art, live-action filming and computer-generated recreations of historical backgrounds in a groundbreaking multi-media showcase.

Since the inaugural presentation at The Arts Club Theatre Company, Vancouver in March 2014, Helen Lawrence has been hosted by the Münchner Kammerspiele, Munich; Edinburgh International Festival; Canadian Stage, Toronto; Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York; and deSingel, Antwerp.

 

An app by Stan Douglas, titled Cirque 1948.

Douglas also created Circa 1948, an app that presents interactive digital environments from late 1940s Vancouver. These environments—The Hotel Vancouver and Hogan's Alley—are also settings in Helen Lawrence.

The artist discussed the app (and his practice generally) in The Guardian saying: "Because of technology, nobody believes any more that a photograph is real. But that just means that we have to take more responsibility as creators of images. We can’t just say, 'Oh, this happened to be there when I was there.' You have to take ownership. It’s always a construction, no matter what."

A photograph of Stan Douglas, Lucas Zwirner, and Jason Moran recording Dialogues in New York, dated 2018.

A conversation about collaboration and the obsessive power of good music—touching on Netflix, Kendrick Lamar, and what it’s like to play with Miles Davis.

In the third episode of Dialogues: The David Zwirner Podcast, photographer and multimedia artist Stan Douglas speaks with MacArthur Award–winning pianist and composer Jason Moran—currently Artistic Director for Jazz at the Kennedy Center—about making and experiencing art. These longtime friends and collaborators discuss what it means to awaken ideas through the language of improvisation and exceed viewer expectations.

See Douglas’s work in Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art at Tate Modern, London, and I Was Raised on the Internet at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, both on view through October 14, 2018. Watch Jason Moran perform with saxophonist Charles Lloyd on August 4 and 5 at the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island. For tickets and more information visit newportjazz.org.

Produced in partnership with Slate Studios, Dialogues: The David Zwirner Podcast is the latest installment in a series of initiatives celebrating the gallery’s twenty-fifth anniversary, which launched in January 2018 with a multi-gallery retrospective in New York and the opening of David Zwirner Hong Kong. "While this year marks an important milestone for the gallery, we continue to look and move forward, whether it be opening a new gallery or exploring new mediums," says David Zwirner. "This is one of the many digital initiatives we are embarking on, to both engage with new audiences and further our artists’ voices." Dialogues: The David Zwirner Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Stitcher, and most major podcast applications. #DZDialogues

Image: Stan Douglas, Lucas Zwirner, and Jason Moran recording Dialogues in New York, 2018. Photo by Zac Casto

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