Stan Douglas | Canada Pavilion | David Zwirner
A header image featuring the text Stan Douglas: 2011 equal 1848

Marking his fifth appearance at the Biennale Arte, the Vancouver-born artist represents Canada with a solo presentation of photographs, 2011 ≠ 1848, and a major new video installation across two venues, the Canada Pavilion in the Giardini and the historic Magazzini del Sale No. 5 in Venice’s Dorsoduro district, curated by Reid Shier.

an Installation view, Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Canada Pavilion, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice

Installation view, Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Canada Pavilion, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, the National Gallery of Canada, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

Installation view, Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Canada Pavilion, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, the National Gallery of Canada, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

an Installation view, Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Canada Pavilion, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice

Installation view, Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Canada Pavilion, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, the National Gallery of Canada, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

Installation view, Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Canada Pavilion, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, the National Gallery of Canada, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

an Installation view, Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Canada Pavilion, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice

Installation view, Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Canada Pavilion, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, the National Gallery of Canada, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

Installation view, Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Canada Pavilion, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, the National Gallery of Canada, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

Stan Douglas’s (b. 1960) multidisciplinary practice often reflects on decisive historical moments and the potential embedded within them—in his words, “when history could have gone one way or another.”

In the Canada Pavilion, the artist presents four photographs that encapsulate pivotal historical moments during global protests across the year 2011: Occupy Wall Street, the London riots, the Arab Spring, and the Stanley Cup riots in Douglas’s native Vancouver.

Stan Douglas on set in Cairo, dated 2021.

Stan Douglas on set in Cairo, 2021. Photo by Seham. Courtesy the artist, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

Stan Douglas on set in Cairo, 2021. Photo by Seham. Courtesy the artist, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

A photograph by Stan Douglas, titled Vancouver, 2011-06-15, dated 2021

Stan Douglas, Vancouver, 2011-06-15, 2021

Stan Douglas, Vancouver, 2011-06-15, 2021

A detail of a photograph by Stan Douglas, titled Vancouver, 2011-06-15, dated 2021

Stan Douglas, Vancouver, 2011-06-15, 2021 (detail)

Stan Douglas, Vancouver, 2011-06-15, 2021 (detail)

A detail of a photograph by Stan Douglas, titled Vancouver, 2011-06-15, dated 2021

Stan Douglas, Vancouver, 2011-06-15, 2021 (detail)

Stan Douglas, Vancouver, 2011-06-15, 2021 (detail)

A detail of a photograph by Stan Douglas, titled Vancouver, 2011-06-15, dated 2021

Stan Douglas, Vancouver, 2011-06-15, 2021 (detail)

Stan Douglas, Vancouver, 2011-06-15, 2021 (detail)

To create these panoramic mise-en-scènes, Douglas digitally stitched together imagery from a variety of sources to reconstruct the historical events as accurately as possible. Unable to travel to these cities himself because of the global pandemic, he directed photographers to capture a wide variety of location shots—from which he painstakingly removed any trace of anachronistic elements that would not have existed in 2011—and then restaged the scenes locally, with dozens of actors in period dress, in an empty hockey arena in Vancouver. In postproduction he then inserted them into the image.

A photograph by Stan Douglas, New York City, 2011-10-01, dated 2021

Stan Douglas, New York City, 2011-10-01, 2021

Stan Douglas, New York City, 2011-10-01, 2021

A detail of a photograph by Stan Douglas, titled New York City, 2011-10-01, dated 2021

Stan Douglas, New York City, 2011-10-01, 2021 (detail)

Stan Douglas, New York City, 2011-10-01, 2021 (detail)

A detail of a photograph by Stan Douglas, titled New York City, 2011-10-01, dated 2021

Stan Douglas, New York City, 2011-10-01, 2021 (detail)

Stan Douglas, New York City, 2011-10-01, 2021 (detail)

A detail of a photograph by Stan Douglas, titled New York City, 2011-10-01, dated 2021

Stan Douglas, New York City, 2011-10-01, 2021 (detail)

Stan Douglas, New York City, 2011-10-01, 2021 (detail)

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Actors on set at the PNE Agrodome, Vancouver, 2021. Photo by Evaan Kheraj

Actors on set at the PNE Agrodome, Vancouver, 2021. Photo by Evaan Kheraj

Here, Douglas re-creates an event that took place in New York City on October 1, 2011, during which demonstrators aligned with the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests attempted to march across the Brooklyn Bridge, resulting in a stand-off with police midway and more than seven hundred arrests. While officials claimed that they detained the protestors for impeding traffic, many from the movement affirmed that the police lured them into the roadway, leading them to believe it was a safe crossing, only to trap them halfway.

Set photo featuring props at the PNE Agrodome, Vancouver, 2021. Photo by Evaan Kheraj

Props on set at the PNE Agrodome, Vancouver, 2021. Photo by Evaan Kheraj

Props on set at the PNE Agrodome, Vancouver, 2021. Photo by Evaan Kheraj

A photograph by Stan Douglas, Tunis, 2011-01-23, dated 2021

Stan Douglas, Tunis, 2011-01-23, 2021

Stan Douglas, Tunis, 2011-01-23, 2021

A detail of a photograph by Stan Douglas, Tunis, 2011-01-23, 2021

Stan Douglas, Tunis, 2011-01-23, 2021 (detail)

Stan Douglas, Tunis, 2011-01-23, 2021 (detail)

A detail of a photograph by Stan Douglas, Tunis, 2011-01-23, 2021

Stan Douglas, Tunis, 2011-01-23, 2021 (detail)

Stan Douglas, Tunis, 2011-01-23, 2021 (detail)

A detail of a photograph by Stan Douglas, Tunis, 2011-01-23, 2021

Stan Douglas, Tunis, 2011-01-23, 2021 (detail)

Stan Douglas, Tunis, 2011-01-23, 2021 (detail)

“Against the idea that the age of the mass has now passed, superseded by digitally facilitated fragmentation and anomie, embodied public assembly has shown itself to be a vital force in the new millennium.”

—Erika Balsom, 2011 ≠ 1848  (catalogue)

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Actors on set at the PNE Agrodome, Vancouver, 2021. Photo by Evaan Kheraj

Actors on set at the PNE Agrodome, Vancouver, 2021. Photo by Evaan Kheraj

The exhibition places the events of 2011, a year that saw significant political and social unrest across the globe, within the long sweep of history. In 1848, Europe was afflicted by continent-wide upheaval that found the 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, but revolt in 2011 was global, with news spread virally through electronic media. The works in 2011 ≠ 1848 explore the events of 2011 as unconscious reactions to the economic and political status quo that followed the recession of 2008 and examine the ways in which social media fueled movements for change.

A photograph by Stan Douglas, London, 2011-08-09 (Pembury Estate), 2021

Stan Douglas, London, 2011-08-09 (Pembury Estate), 2017

Stan Douglas, London, 2011-08-09 (Pembury Estate), 2017

A detail of a photograph by Stan Douglas, London, 2011-08-09 (Pembury Estate), 2021

Stan Douglas, London, 2011-08-09 (Pembury Estate), 2017 (detail)

Stan Douglas, London, 2011-08-09 (Pembury Estate), 2017 (detail)

A detail of a photograph by Stan Douglas, London, 2011-08-09 (Pembury Estate), 2021

Stan Douglas, London, 2011-08-09 (Pembury Estate), 2017 (detail)

Stan Douglas, London, 2011-08-09 (Pembury Estate), 2017 (detail)

A detail of a photograph by Stan Douglas, London, 2011-08-09 (Pembury Estate), 2021

Stan Douglas, London, 2011-08-09 (Pembury Estate), 2017 (detail)

Stan Douglas, London, 2011-08-09 (Pembury Estate), 2017 (detail)

At Magazzini del Sale No. 5, a sixteenth-century salt factory located a short distance from Punta della Dogana, Douglas continues his exploration into the cultural resistance of 2011 through a major two-channel video installation, ISDN (titled after the technology, conceived in the 1980s, used to transmit digital audio over a phone line).

The installation features two screens that face each other. On each, a pair of performers, one in London and the other in Cairo, trade freestyled verses transmitted between them on ISDN lines. While the London rappers drop their verses in English, the performers in Cairo respond in Arabic, each with subtitles in the other’s language.

An installation view, Stan Douglas, ISDN, 2022, in Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Magazzini del Sale No. 5, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice

Installation view, Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Magazzini del Sale No. 5, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, the National Gallery of Canada, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

Installation view, Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Magazzini del Sale No. 5, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, the National Gallery of Canada, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

ISDN reveals Douglas’s keen ability to reconstitute the present via fictional interventions into the past… this is much more than a concert film: Douglas recorded the lyrics and 140-beats-per-minute bass line separately, and an algorithm cuts and sutures the British and Egyptian sounds into a perpetually new performance, an imagined community constituted through music and fiber-optic cables.”

—Jason Farago, The New York Times

An Installation view, Stan Douglas, ISDN, 2022, in Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Canada Pavilion, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice

Installation view, Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Magazzini del Sale No. 5, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, the National Gallery of Canada, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

Installation view, Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Magazzini del Sale No. 5, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, the National Gallery of Canada, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

The viewer is positioned between the two screens, caught in this call-and-response jam session unfolding across continents. Though their sound is upbeat, the performers foreground systemic social ills in their verses, directly raising questions about race and class in their own particular situations. Layers of sound underneath the vocals are mixed in an ever-changing configuration, the full permutations of which would take more than two weeks to experience.

An Installation view, Stan Douglas, ISDN, 2022, in Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Magazzini del Sale No. 5, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice

Installation view, Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Magazzini del Sale No. 5, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, the National Gallery of Canada, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

Installation view, Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848, Magazzini del Sale No. 5, Biennale Arte 2022, Venice. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, the National Gallery of Canada, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

“My central gesture is not to represent Canada, but to represent the world. We’re not just nation-states as we were in 1848. We’re connected and we’re hybrid … the idea of having this endless music is to say that when you do have this cross-fertilization between cultures, the possibilities are endless.”

—Stan Douglas

Stan Douglas’s 2011 ≠ 1848 was commissioned by the National Gallery of Canada. With thanks to the presenting sponsor Royal Bank of Canada. Venice map by Eden Weingart for David Zwirner

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