For the first time in over 20 years, Stan Douglas exhibits a solo presentation at the David Zwirner Gallery. With an international reach, Douglas has meditated on technology’s role in visual arts (and society at large). Familiar with film and photography as media, Douglas does not disappoint in presenting both by David Zwirner. Douglas’ exhibition ISDN is energizing and inspiring.
With particular inquiry into how technology (specifically film and photography) creates and perpetuates collective memory, Douglas leverages hyper-specific instances to create a global resonance. While most recent exhibitions and discourse surround recent 2020 pandemic experiences, Douglas harkens back to 2011. 2011 may seem a distant memory, but vivid is the imagery of Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring, and uprisings in numerous cities (regarding civil unrest).
Douglas’ interest hones in on personal narratives nested in larger moments of societal fracture.
ISDN is a two-channel video installation; pairs of MCs swap free-style verses in pop-up studios located in both London and Cairo. Douglas connected these disparate cities with technology which has largely been overtaken by broadband and fiber optics. However, both sets of MCs freestyle a soundtrack of revolt.
TrueMendous and Lady Sanity freestyle in English with Arabic subtitles, while Yousef Joker and Raptor freestyle in Arabic. Energetic and inspiring, the lyrics are dark and indicative of larger strains within their respective communities. Touchstones of their own experiences can be intuited.
Complementing this filmography is a mises-en-scenes-style series of panoramas. Upon first glance, these looming, intense, and intriguing scenes seem captured in moments of historical turmoil. Only upon closer glance do you see that Douglas digitally reconstructed these scenes to the best of his ability.
Broadly accessible and exotic enough to pique the interest (and yet not be fetishizing), Douglas walks a fine but brilliant line.
David Zwirner Gallery
612 N Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90004
May 23 – July 2023