Stan Douglas Represents Canada at the 59th International Art Exhibition — La Biennale di Venezia 2022
Recognized as one of Canada’s most acclaimed contemporary artists whose multidisciplinary practice includes films, photographs and—more recently—theatre productions, Stan Douglas has continually reimagined the mediums of photography and multi-channel film and video installations.
His practice is characterized by critical imagination, formal ingenuity and deep commitment to social enquiry, while his work often reflects on the dynamic potential embedded in pivotal historical moments, investigating the relationship between local histories and generational social forces, both global and local.
The exhibition for the Biennale Arte 2022 is inspired by the tenth anniversary of 2011, a year that saw significant social and political unrest around the globe, including the Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East, the Occupy protests that began in New York, the widespread unrest in the UK in response to austerity measures, as well as a riot in the artist’s hometown of Vancouver following a hockey final.
Hegel remarks somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.
Karl Marx: The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
Stan Douglas: 2011 ≠ 1848 draws a comparison between the events of 2011 and those of 1848, a year in which continent-wide upheaval found European middle and working classes allied in a fight against a lack of democratic freedoms, restrictions on the press, and the continued dominance of an aristocratic elite.
Across Europe and North America, the events of 2011 were simply policed and ignored, while in North Africa and the Middle East, they were suppressed or subverted, with a few notable exceptions.
Stan Douglas explores the events of 2011 as unconscious reactions to the economic and political status quo which followed the recession of 2008, and examines the ways in which social media fuelled movements for change.
Revolt in 1848 was continental, as news spread by print media, but revolt in 2011 was global, with news spread virally by way of electronic media.
Stan Douglas [b. 1960, Vancouver] is a visual artist who lives and works in Vancouver and Los Angeles. His films and photographs have been included in exhibitions internationally since the early 1980s, including at documenta IX, X and XI [1992, 1997, 2002] and in four previous Biennale Artes [1990, 2001, 2005 and 2019].
A survey of his work, Stan Douglas: Mise en scène, toured Europe from 2013 until the end of 2015. From 2014 until 2017, his multimedia theatre production Helen Lawrence was presented in Vancouver, Toronto, Munich, Antwerp, Edinburgh, Brooklyn and Los Angeles.
Douglas received the International Centre of Photography’s Infinity Award in 2012, the Scotiabank Photography Award in 2013, the Hasselblad Award in 2016, the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in 2019 and the Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture in 2021.
Between 2004 and 2006 he was a professor at Universität der Künste Berlin and is currently Chair of the Graduate Art Program of ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California.
Stan Douglas has developed a project that investigates and reimagines events of 2011. The resulting works are emblematic of the artist’s acuity in bearing witness to conditions that are rapidly unfolding, and to the critical and creative imagination with which his art describes histories pixelated through lenses that remain in constant flux.
Reid Shier is the Director of The Polygon Gallery, formally Presentation House Gallery, in North Vancouver. Since joining The Polygon in 2006, he spearheaded the development of a new $17.5M waterfront facility, which opened in 2017.
Prior to this, he was Chief Curator of the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto (2004–06), Curator of the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, (2002–04), and Director/Curator of the artist run Or Gallery, Vancouver (1996–2001).
Shier has curated more than 80 exhibitions and his critical writing has been published broadly, including a recent essay on Stan Douglas’ public artwork Abbott and Cordova, 7 August 1971.
Stan Douglas is one of this country’s most internationally respected artists and we are thrilled to be supporting the development of a new work for the Venice Biennale. Douglas' astounding new commissions for the Canada Pavilion and the centuries-old Magazzini del Sale No. 5 investigate languages of protest, revolt, and revolution, and continue the artist’s meticulous investigations into the technological mediation of pivotal moments in time. A leading voice in contemporary art in Canada and internationally, Douglas’ works for Venice challenge us, as a global community and as individuals, to reflect upon past and present always with a view to how we want to live tomorrow.
Sasha Suda, PhD, Director and CEO, National Gallery of Canada
Stan Douglas was selected by a national committee of experts in contemporary Canadian art comprised of:
John Zeppetelli, Director and Chief Curator, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
Reid Shier, Director, The Polygon Gallery
Kitty Scott, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, National Gallery of Canada
Sasha Suda, PhD, Director and CEO, National Gallery of Canada
The exhibition unfolds across two venues in Venice, a first for Canada’s presentation at La Biennale di Venezia.
Canada Pavilion in the Giardini
Four large-scale photographs from the series 2011 ≠ 1848 (2021) explore the events of 2011 as unconscious reactions to the economic and political status quo which followed the recession of 2008 and examine the ways in which social media fuelled movements for change.
The photographs re-stage protests and riots from 2011 across four geographic locations: Tunis on 12 January 2011 at the beginning of the Arab Spring; Vancouver on 15 June 2011 in the aftermath of the Stanley Cup riot; London on 9 August 2011 during the clashes between youth and police; and New York on 1 October 2011 when police were kettling Occupy Wall Street protesters.
To create these meticulous reconstructions, Douglas combined high-resolution photographic and CG plate shots of the site of each event with elaborate staged re-enactments, and, in one case, documentary aerial footage.
Magazzini del Sale No. 5
ISDN (2022) is a new two-channel video installation that explores music as a form of cultural resistance.
Taking its title from an obsolete method of transmitting digital audio over telephone lines, ISDN centres around two musical genres that emerged at the same time: Grime in London, and Mahraganat in Cairo. Though Grime has its roots in Dubstep and Mahraganat in Sha‘abi, the two often share a similar timbre because their producers sometimes use the same free or pirated software and samples gleaned from the internet.
ISDN presents a fictionalized account of Grime and Mahraganat rappers exchanging beats and lyrics using scavenged equipment in improvised recording studios. Sensorially immersive, the rhythms in ISDN move through a game of call and response that thwarts the parameters between what is seen and what is heard in astonishing and unprecedented ways.
La Biennale di Venezia is the largest and most prestigious contemporary art exhibition in the world with more than 80 countries participating.
For more than 60 years, the Canada Pavilion, situated in the Giardini, has featured the work of the most accomplished Canadian artists, curated by the country’s most renowned curators.
Titled The Milk of Dreams and curated by Cecilia Alemani, the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia takes place from April 23 to November 27, 2022.
Its main exhibition features work by over 200 invited artists, of which six are from Canada: Elaine Cameron-Weir, Jes Fan, Allison Katz, Kapwani Kiwanga, Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill and Tau Lewis.
The Gallery acknowledges the collaboration and support of David Zwirner, New York/London/Paris/Hong Kong, and Victoria Miro, London/Venice. Special recognition is extended to Jackie Flanagan, the Michael & Sonja Koerner Family, the Donald R. Sobey Family, and the Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation for their exceptional contributions to the Canadian Artists in Venice Endowment, and to Reesa Greenberg, whose generous financial support funded the restoration of the Canada Pavilion.
#CanadaPavilion #StanDouglas #BiennaleArte2022 #TheMilkOfDreams