Stan Douglas Photographs 2008-2013, Carré d’Art-Nîmes Exhibition, French Museum of Contemporary Art
Stan Douglas Photographs 2008-2013, France
French Museum of Contemporary Art Exhibition
4 Jul 2013
Stan Douglas Exhibition
Carré d’Art-Nîmes Exhibition
12 Oct 2013 – 26 Jan 2014
Since the late 1980s, Stan Douglas has been making films, photographs and installations which analyse and go back over past events, while appropriating codes and techniques from cinema, television and press photography. The exhibition at Carré d’Art features series of photographs taken between 2008 and 2013. They address questions such as photojournalism, the rhetoric of reportage, documentary fiction, the role of the media and information as spectacle.
In Mid Century Studio, Douglas looks at images of North America from the post-war period through the figure of a photojournalist working between 1945 and 1951. This piece recreates a distinct historical moment, evoking the optimism of the post-war years but also the relation of photography to the media, spectacle and entertainment. The work questions one of the paradigms of photojournalism, in the tradition of Weegee, one that asserts the infallibility of photographic recording and, paradoxically, leads us to an excess of reality. The magic of photography was evoked early in the history of the medium by William Henry Fox-Talbot. In this series made up of portraits but also genre scenes, we find mainly themes linked to entertainment, magic, sport and the circus, with, in the background, the emergence of a subculture.
The figure of the photojournalist is also at the centre of Disco Angola, this time travelling between New York and Angola in the 1970s. The work draws parallels between the economically depressed New York of the 1970s and the early Angolan independence movements, when the desire for freedom was expressed in the language of the body, whether in dance or in capoiera. In the clubs of New York, meanwhile, disco music appears as a way of escaping the crisis and experiencing social and racial mixing.
In Crowds and Riots Douglas explores the representation of public events taking place in Vancouver. The photographs here have an almost cinematic, performative quality. They were taken using cinematographic technologies and edited digitally. One of the most emblematic replays a violent clash that occurred in 1971 between city police and peaceful demonstrators representing the counterculture. This series showing anonymous crowds brings out the tensions at work in class relations and the aspiration to new forms of public and cultural life that are repressed by the powers that be.
In these photographic series, the return to the past becomes a way of breaking with the immediacy of our present and taking a critical look at history. This exhibition makes it possible to develop a critical sense of the way technological, aesthetical and political parameters are at work in the production of images at different periods. The complex “fictionalization” of the real, using mise-en-scène, emerges as one of the most incisive ways of grasping reality.
Exhibition coproduced with Haus der Kunst, Munich (summer 2014), Museu Berardo – Lisbon (end 2014), The National Gallery of Ireland (2015), Wiels – Bruxelles (2015)
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Stan Douglas Photographs Exhibition information from Carré d’Art
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