Douglas Gordon. Play Dead. Real Time

Curator: Marie Fraser

Artist: Douglas Gordon

September 7, 2007 - October 6, 2007

Opening: September 7, 2007, 5:30 pm

On Friday, September 7, 2006, the Galerie de l’UQAM will officially open Montreal’s first one-person exhibition devoted to the work of Douglas Gordon, a Scottish artist very much in view on the international scene. This exhibition, a touring show featuring Gordon’s Play Dead: Real Time, was organized by the National Gallery of Canada and is presented as part of Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal. The theme for this 10th installment of the event, curated by Marie Fraser, is Replaying Narrative.

The exhibition

The exhibition brings together two major works executed in 1995 and 2003. In each, the narrative element is determined by duration in real time. With Play Dead: Real Time, Gordon explores the absence of narrative organization by presenting the action of a scene within its own temporal frame. In response to the the orders of its driver, Minnie, a four-year-old Indian elephant, performs a variety of tricks that include standing still, moving forward, backing up, getting up from a lying position, begging and playing dead. Filmed in the immaculate environment of the Gagosian Gallery in New York, Minnie’s tricks are projected in total silence onto two elephant-size screens and on a monitor placed on the floor.

Gordon re-visits his exploration of narrative absence with 5 Year Drive-By, a slow-motion projection of John Ford’s cowboy classic The Searchers. This 113-minute film is screened in such a way that the time of the story corresponds to its real-time duration of five years. The image is almost completely still and the narrative character of the film disappears in the ensuing inaction. The cinematographic movement is thereby reduced to the immobility of the photograph.

The artist

Born in 1966 in Glasgow (United Kingdom), Douglas Gordon lives and works there as well as in New York. Since the 1990s, he has been interested mainly in collective memory and popular culture. He deconstructs classic Hollywood narratives by using video installations to transform their projection parameters. This technique dissolves the narrative element, providing viewers with a reception experience akin to that involved in looking at photographs.

Gordon has received many prestigious contemporary art prizes including the Guggenheim Museum’s Hugo Boss Prize (1998), the Venice Biennale’s Premio 2000 (1997) and the Tate’s Turner Prize (1996). He is represented by the Gagosian Gallery of New York and the Galerie Yvon Lambert of Paris, among others. Works of his can be found in the collections of major international galleries like the Tate Modern (London), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, D.C.), as well as in the British Art Council Collection. In recent years, several large-scale retrospectives have been devoted to his work. These include, for instance, one in the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Germany (2007) and one in the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2006). Recently, the film Zidane, A Portrait of the 21th Century (2006), made in conjunction with Philippe Parreno, was presented in Montreal by the DHC – ART Foundation for Contemporary Art.

Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal

Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal is a biannual event devoted to contemporary photography. Its 10th installment, which runs from September 6 to October 21 this year, consists of some 30 one-person exhibitions spread over various locations in the Greater Montreal area. The featured artists, who come from Canada, the United States, Mexico, South America, Europe and Asia, will enable viewers to discover the various issues involved in narrative and call narrative devices into questions.