Gordon exhibition at Fundació Miró
Douglas Gordon: through a looking glass (1999)
Douglas Gordon: Pretty much every (1992-?)
Douglas Gordon: Self portrait with scopolamine (1994)
Douglas Gordon: What you want me to say (1998)
Douglas Gordon: From God to nothing (1996)
by G. Fernández - theartwolf.com
Okay, I admit that I'm a complete skeptical about awards and prizes. I don't believe in them, neither in their value -except the economical one, of course-, nor in the criteria to give them. And the much-coveted Turner Prize, instead of being an exception, strengthens me in my principles. Nevertheless, from time to time a sensible decision gives me back a temporary faith in the much-hyped prizes, and the awarding of the Turner Prize of 1996 to Scottish artist Douglas Gordon (Glasgow, 1966) was one of them.
Gordon is responsible for some of the most interesting artistic creations of the last years, covering fields such as cinematography, the audiovisual installations or even the literature, making him one of those artists who seem to refuse to be sorted in a certain style or tendency. At present, with no other reason that offering a new opportunity of watching his works, the Foundation Joan Miró in Barcelona has prepared an exhibition entitled what you want me to say. I'm already dead , which shows some of the most famous works by the Scottish artist in the recent years.
24-Hour Psycho (1993) is one of the most celebrated works by Gordon, and can be a perfect start point to his entire opera . A screen, placed diagonally in the middle of a quite dark hall, projects the famous film Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock, with the particularity that the emission, which lacks sound, is slowed down to the point of being increased its duration to 24 hours. Also, this screen is translucent and the film is projected on both sides of it, so when a spectator approaches to the screen is seen by the spectators placed on the other side, causing a strange interference in a so familiar film.
Similar in appearance, but quite different in its effect, is Through a Looking Glass (1999), in which two screens, placed face to face, projecting repeatedly a one-minute-or-so fragment from the film Taxi driver , by Martin Scorsese with Robert de Niro (yeah, the famous you talkin' to me? scene) In this one, the spectator does not interact with the work, but, placed between both screens, seems to be placed in the middle of a shooting, being the next victim of Travis Bickle's paranoia. Personally, I think that this work, apparently simple or even tricky , is, with its smart use of the space and dimensions, and the aggressive of its effect, one of the best works by Gordon.
Much more ambitious, to the point of being hardly affordable for the spectator, is the work with the descriptive title of Pretty much every Film and Video work from about 1992 until now (1992-?). It consists in a large group of monitors showing, as the title warns, the entire cinematographic work by Gordon in the last 14 years. The monitors, some of them accompanied with headphones, are placed in different positions in every exhibition.
Together with this "immediate effect works", the exhibition shows some works that demand more interpretative complicity by the spectator. For example, No now (1998) is a strictly text work, written in a lonely line in the four walls of a white room. The text, which apparently lacks of sense, refers exclusively to the past and the future, avoiding every mention to the present, giving a sense to the work and its mysterious title
What you want me to say (1998) is hardly understandable without an additional explication. Apparently, it consists in a group of black loudspeakers placed randomly over the floor of one of the halls; while they emit a weird I love you. I love you. I love you. The work refers to the film Brighton Rock , directed by John Boulting. In its last scene, the protagonist records a telephonic message to a girl named Rose, which says: "what you want me to say is that I love you, but I really hate you". The message is accidentally cut, and what the girl hears is a continuous I love you. I love you. I love you. Gordon seems to reflect about reality and the perception, and how it can fool us.
But even these two works seem quite coarse if compared with the powerful but also subtle intellectual complexity of From God to Nothing (1996). Three simple light bulbs, placed one at the height of a human head, the second at the height of a heart, and the third at the height of the genitals; hangs in the middle of a hall, illuminating it only the necessary to allow the spectator to read the text written in the walls. This text repeats the phrase Fear to ____ , beginning with Fear to God and ending with Fear to nothing . The spectator can walk through the hall, reading these fears, sharing some of them, rejecting others or even making new ones, under the low and disturbing light of the three light bulbs.
Analyzing Douglas Gordon's career, the obvious impression is that we are talking about an artist that, despite the early recognition, is still at his best, and, at his 40 years of age, seems willing to keep the conceptual experimentation that have given him exceptional results.