"Detroit Photos" Press Release


October 24—November 1, 1998

Opening on Saturday, October 24, the gallery will present an exhibition by the Canadian artist Stan Douglas. This will be the artist's fourth solo show at the gallery.

Stan Douglas has been showing his work steadily since the mid-1980s. He was invited to Documenta IX in 1992 and participated in the 1995 Carnegie International, as well as in the 1995 Whitney Biennial. In 1997, his work was shown at Documenta X; the Münster Skulptur Projekte; the Lyon Biennale and the Johannesburg Biennale.

Stan Douglas' new suite of 25 C-print photographs was shot in and around Detroit, Michigan over a period of eighteen months. The artist ongoing investigation into the Modernist project is now focused on one of the icons of Modernism itself: the twentieth-century American city. Detroit, which has become synonymous with the production of the automobile–one of the great symbols of progress, is today a city in decay. The civic coherence of Detroit has been lost, as the automotive industry has moved to greater automation, abolishing blue-collar jobs, while the middle class has fled the urban center to establish gated communities in the suburbs.

Stan Douglas' photographs document a city in ruins. The buildings and urban structures are abandoned and left to decay. On first viewing, the devastation suggests a cataclysmic event. However upon closer inspection, the photographs reveal a city that has been ravaged by economic, political, and demographic changes.

The legacy of 1967 has increased the "white flight" and the subsequent rise of incorporated, self-contained upper-middle class suburbs that have left a decrepit downtown area to fend for itself. The urban developments in Detroit: a desolate downtown; urban areas strictly demarcated along social and economic lines; and the near absolute availability of former public spaces to private interests are symptomatic of many cities across the United States. If the idea of the metropolis is based on a utopian ideal then Stan Douglas' new body of work presents a sobering document to a failed utopia and the limits of progress.

On October 22nd, the gallery will host a book launching to celebrate the publication of a Phaidon Press monograph with texts by Gilles Deleuze; Carol Clover, and Scott Watson; an interview of the artist by Diana Thater; as well as the artist's own writings.

Artist Biography

Exhibition Checklist