Opening on March 13th, the gallery will present an exhibition of new work by the Canadian artist Stan Douglas. The DVD installation entitled Suspiria was originally commissioned for last year´s Documenta XI in Kassel. This will be the US premiere of this work, as well as the first time the accompanying photograph will be shown. The exhibition will be the artist´s sixth solo one at David Zwirner. Stan Douglas currently has a one-person exhibition at the Kestner Gesellschaft in Hanover, Germany through March 30th.
Suspiria takes its title from a 1977 horror movie by Italian director, Dario Argento. It was one of the last films in the west that was shot in Technicolor: a process which allows the film to carry a lush, highly-saturated palette. Stan Douglas´ Suspiria borrows the visual style and sound from the 1977 film by manipulating a technical property of the NTSC television system.
Argento´s specific decision to shoot in Technicolor also makes a direct reference to Walt Disney´s adaptation of Grimm´s Fairy Tales. Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm themselves were born in Kassel, the place where Documenta takes place. Thus, the artist uses the city as the setting for his recreations of the fairytales within the labyrinth corridors of Kassel´s most infamous monument: the Herkules Oktagon situated in the Bergpark Wilhelmshohe on the outskirts of the city. The tales themselves, 250 of them share similar structures and characters. These will be distilled into a constellation of narrative elements that may be reassembled into different permutations that will take approximately 100 days to unfold.
During the 100 days of Documenta XI, these scenarios, that were performed by actors in colored costumes and makeup and originally filmed in a closed set, will be superimposed into live images fed directly from the Herkules monument via 13 black and white cameras, which were installed in and around the corridors of the Oktagon. (For the gallery installation recordings of the live feeds will be synchronized with the fairytale recreations.) A computer system will select and play one of the array of possibilities and match the recorded set of camera angles with those of the live video feeds. This superimposition will cause oversaturated faces and figures to bleed over and into its setting, thus changing the hues as the quality of daylight changes within the Herkules space. The soundtrack performed by the Italian group, "Goblin" will also echo the visual intersections by using variations of musical themes recorded on a bank of synchronous tracks which may be played back in groupings remixed in real time by the same computer system used to switch the video.
For the artist, Suspiria is a work that encapsulates his ongoing investigations into the failure of modernism. The language of this project is derived from the German intellectual generation younger than the Grimms brothers, namely that of Karl Marx. "Das Kapital itself is littered with talk of the supernatural—vampirism, witchcraft, and the magical transformation of raw material into commodities, commodities into surplus value, and surplus value into capital---occult practices that are all haunted by labor." Now that capitalism has lost its primary antagonist, it has no "other", Marx stated himself, towards the end of the last volume of Das Kapital, using the idiom of the Brothers Grimm. "Long, long ago there were two sorts of people, one, the diligent, intelligent and above all frugal elite; the other, lazy rascals, spending their substance and more on riotous living…Thus it came to pass that the former sort accumulated wealth, and the latter sort finally had nothing to sell but their skins." For Douglas, using the syntax of mythology, "proponents of postmodern accumulation seem intent on dividing the world into these same two species of being." With all the glittering progress of modernism, have we truly moved forward or have we really just come full circle?
For further information, please contact the gallery at 212.727.2070.