Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Stan Douglas - Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh,

November 7th-February 15th 2015

When Stan Douglas decided to explore what happens in rough-house
neighbourhoods after a war, the play, Helen Lawrence, which forms part
of the 2014 Edinburgh International Festival's Theatre programme, was
the result. This film noir writ large is an epic piece of 'cinematic
theatre' in which the actors are filmed live as they perform against
digitally realised back-drops of Vancouver's Hogan's Alley district and
the city's now demolished Old Hotel where homeless war veterans
squatted in increasing squalor.

It was somehow fitting that the shadows and light of  Hogan's Alley
were tucked away at one end of Munich's Kunsthaus as part of Douglas'
recent Mise en scene show of his elaborately constructed fictions
there. The 3D stylings of both Hogan's Alley and Hotel Vancouver that
formed the 'set' of Helen Lawrence now makes up part of the Canadian
film and photography-based artist's Fruitmarket Gallery show.

Also at the Fruitmarket will be Video, an eighteen minute remake of
Orson Welles' big-screen version of Franz Kafka's novel, The Trial
which, while also looking to Samuel Beckett's 1965 work, Film, was
filmed in the same Paris tower-block where Jean Luc Godard's 1967
feature, Deux ou trois choses que je sais d'elle (Two Or Three Things I
Know about Her). The digital form is reduced to its purest state in the
selections from Corrupt Files (2013), which turns data into
rainbow-coloured bar-codes.

The centrepiece of the show, however, will be Der Sandmann, Douglas'
1995 breakout piece that took its name from an E.T.A. Hoffman short
story referenced by Sigmund Freud. Filmed in Potsdam, the film looked
at post Cold War urban planning via a split screen juxtaposition of
footage of a garden when it was a place where the poor could grow food,
and twenty years later when it had become a construction site.

First seen widely at Documenta in 1997, Der Sandmann encapsulates
Douglas' quietly political concerns, which map out or else reimagine
social histories of marginalised communities. This is the case too with
Helen Lawrence, in which the digital reconstruction of both Hogan's
Ally and the Old Hotel both honours their history while creating a
brand new mythology where nothing is hidden.

Scottish Art News - August 2014


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