Since the late 1980s, Stan Douglas has been creating films, photographs, and installations, as well as recently venturing into theater productions and other multidisciplinary projects, exploring the parameters of their respective mediums. The artist queries the past in his works, breaking through traditional narrative structures to blur fact and fiction.
The exhibition SPLICING BLOCK examines the relationship between music and society, and is at the same time a reflection on the media of film and photography. The works reconstruct and imagine the 1960s and 70s—an era distinguished by (de-)colonization and migration, but one equally permeated by jazz, underground disco, and Afrobeat.
On view are the early two-channel video installation Hors-champs (1992), the six-hour video Luanda-Kinshasa (2013), as well as large-format photographs from the series Disco Angola (2012). The artist shot Luanda-Kinshasa in a space modelled on the legendary New York recording studio The Church, while Hors-champs was filmed in a Parisian television studio. The photographs from the series Disco Angola stage “a costume drama in fragments” (Stan Douglas), set in post-industrial New York and post-colonial Angola, but shot in California.
A splicing block is a tool for the cutting and splicing, that is the joining, of both analog film and audio material. The precision of its operation is subject to the abilities of the actual cutter—once cut, the process cannot be undone. Stan Douglas is a master of such work, creating imperceptible transitions between different times and places. It is not just the attentive staging of the filming and photography, but above all the meticulous construction in the editing room, which effortlessly conveys the viewer through space and time. The title SPLICING BLOCK is therefore a metaphor for Stan Douglas’ particular working methods.
Stan Douglas is widely regarded as one of the most important representatives of time-based media art. His works are again being shown in a solo exhibition in Berlin for the first time since 2001.
Curated by Paola Malavassi, Head of JSC Berlin.
The exhibition STAN DOUGLAS / SPLICING BLOCK is part of the Culture Program accompanying Canada’s Guest of Honour presentation at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2020. We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Government of Canada represented by the Embassy of Canada, Berlin.