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Through photography, film and installation, the Canadian artist Stan Douglas has, since the late-1980s, examined complex intersections of narrative, fact and fiction while scrutinising the constructs of the media he employs and their influence on our understanding of reality. Douglas's work is often in the first instance an examination of place - Potsdam, Cuba and Detroit have provided the impetus for, respectively, Der Sandmann (1995), Inconsolable Memories (2005) and Le Détroit (1999) - but entangled with the detail of specific geographical and political circumstance is a diverse range of source material that has included the writings of Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett, Theodor W. Adorno and ETA Hoffmann, and the films of Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles. While we may recognise the literary, filmic or musical references, along with the stories, places or even characters appropriated in these complex works, expectations are often frustrated. Instead of narrative fulfilment, Douglas offers us complexity, perplexity and doubt. The artist has remarked that 'life is all middle' and in Douglas's work the viewer often finds himself plunged into events whose beginnings are obscured and whose ends seem to dissolve into mutability. For instance, the films Journey Into Fear (2001), which makes reference to Eric Ambler's 1940s spy novel as well as Herman Melville's 1857 novel 'The Confidence Man', and Klatsassin (2006), which referring to Akira Kurosawa's 1950 film Rashomon reveals details of a murder in nineteenth-century British Columbia through a series of sometimes contradictory flashbacks and anecdotes, unfold over many days. Both are examples of Douglas's 'recombinant' works - sequences of imagery and dialogue generated by computer as permutations that are capable of running without repetition for timespans way in excess of the conventional art-viewing experience. As such, the works unmoor themselves from formal requirements of narrative and expectations of authorship as they liberate the viewer to reflect on the contingencies of truth in the wider world. It is no coincidence that Douglas often chooses to locate his work where failures of political and social systems are most apparent. His critical eye focused on events that could have taken a very different turn, Douglas attunes us to the possibility of alternative outcomes.
Born in Vancouver in 1960, Stan Douglas has been the subject of numerous solo and group exhibitions at prominent institutions worldwide.
✯✯✯✯✯ "A contender for show of the year" - The Evening Standard
✯✯✯✯✯ "Ten of the most engaging pieces of visual art you’ll see together all year" - TimeOut
✯✯✯✯ "It’s hard to imagine a more exhilarating exhibition" - The Telegraph
✯✯✯✯ "A weird, wonderful assortment of videos’ that ‘dances madly with big ideas" - The Guardian
The Infinite Mix: Contemporary Sound and Image brings together audiovisual artworks that are soulful and audacious in their exploration of a wide range of subjects. In all of the works in this exhibition the interplay between moving image and sound is crucial. Most of the artists have composed, commissioned or remixed soundtracks that relate to the visual element of their work in unexpected ways, and ensure that what you hear is just as important as what you see.
The Infinite Mix includes works that address tumultuous histories and cultural tensions in ways that are thought-provoking as well as deeply entertaining. They also pointedly remix our notions of history and fiction, the real and the staged, and the sublime and the everyday. Drawing on varied genres including documentary filmmaking, music video, experimental film and theatrical performance, these artworks dispense with straightforward storytelling and unfold in a manner akin to musical compositions. Together, they expand the ways in which we experience moving images and sound, and open up new veins of meaning in art’s potentially ‘infinite mix.’