Artist: Stan Douglas
Venue: Wiels, Brussels
Exhibition Title: Interregnum
Date: October 9, 2015 – January 10, 2016
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of the artist; Wiels, Brussels; David Zwirner, New York/London; and Victoria Miro, London. Photos by Sven Laurent – Let Me Shoot For You.
Stan Douglas (b. 1960, Vancouver) is best known for his visually absorbing and sophisticated films, video installations and photographs. His work is an intricate interplay of history, politics and technology, all of it punctuated by popular culture references drawn from the immediate post-War period. More often than not set in Vancouver, Douglas’ work registers transformations in society by parsing through the aspirations of popular cultural and avant-garde forms alike.
Interregnum, the artist’s first major solo exhibition in Belgium, presents works from the past seven years. The title alludes, in general, to historical moments of suspension, emancipation and in-between-ness; in this case, however, it alludes specifically, to the aftermath of the 1974 Portuguese Carnation Revolution, a largely bloodless military coup that galvanized popular support and toppled a dictatorship that had ruled the country for nearly 50 years. The months following this revolt were marked by demonstrations in the street and different orientations of change in society, before a new consensus government was set in place.
Douglas’ The Secret Agent (2015), which premieres at WIELS, is at the heart of the exhibition. Based on Joseph Conrad’s novel of the same name, this room- sized, six-screen video installation showcases Douglas’ conceptual and technical mastery of filmic forms.
His work delves into and rewrites historical narratives based on meticulous research. What emerges are visual storylines that never present a single, all- encompassing perspective. He often combines a multitude of angles, as in the films Luanda-Kinshasa (2013), which loops continually, and for an impossibly long time, and in The Secret Agent, where the confronting screens and the discontinuous alternation of fragmented scenes and time sequences question the historical narrative and processes of experience, memorizing and recording.
Parallel to Douglas’ mastery of new technological tools to go beyond linear storytelling are the historically accurate reconstructions of sets and artistic forms in these films, which foreground experimental music (the fusion and African jazz) and popular culture (the spy novel). The process of decolonisation in Portuguese colonies – Angola, Guinea and Mozambique – that preceded the Carnation Revolution saw the emergence of an avant-garde film movement, the Novo Cinema, that questioned conventional forms of storytelling and strove to reach populations discriminated against and propose alternative ways to perceive and understand society and reality.
The series Crowds and Riots (2008), Midcentury Studio (2010-11) and Disco Angola (2012) push the boundaries of photographic practice, employing innovative digital post-production techniques. A number of the photographs are ambitious in their scale and cinematic staging, and not unlike the complex compositions of large-scale history paintings. Ultimately, however, they challenge photography’s pretence to being a tool that faithfully and objectively records reality, and shows it to be a tool for the construction of history and meaning and for the confusion of fact and fiction, personal and official accounts.
Curator: Dirk Snauwaert
In collaboration with Carré d’Art (Nîmes), Haus der Kunst (München), Kunsthal Charlottenborg (Copenhagen), Fruitmarket Gallery (Edinburgh), Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin) and Berardo Collection Museum (Lisbon).
Link: Stan Douglas at Wiels