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Stan Douglas, Two Friends, 1975, 2012. Digital chromogenic print mounted on Dibond aluminum. Courtesy of the artist, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives

  • Exhibition
  • Contemporary Art
  • Photography
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PHI Foundation 451 Saint-Jean Street
Montréal, Québec H2Y 2R5

Wednesday to Friday: 12 PM—7 PM
Saturday and Sunday: 11 AM—6 PM

Free admission No reservations required

Curated by

For over thirty years, Stan Douglas has devoted his work to the investigation of the image; the technologies of their making, their aesthetic languages and their dynamics of power. Through photo, film and video installation, television, theatre, mobile applications and many other digital media technologies, he delves into the recreation of moments in history at a cultural, social and political tipping point, to reveal multiple and divergent narratives in meticulous detail.

The exhibition at the PHI Foundation will present the Canadian premiere of Douglas’s most recent photo series Penn Station's Half Century (2021) and Disco Angola (2012), a series of photos that will be presented in Québec for the first time.

Penn Station's Half Century was commissioned by the Empire State Development in partnership with Public Art Fund, on the occasion of the dedication of New York City’s new Moynihan Train Hall. Douglas worked with a researcher who rifled through thousands of newspapers and periodicals to select nine historic moments that took place in New York’s original Pennsylvania Station between 1914 and 1957, before it was demolished to make way for Madison Square Garden. Among these selected events is March 1, 1914, when a large number of vaudeville performers staged an impromptu show after being stranded at the station by a severe snowstorm. Another was August 7, 1934, when liberated Black labour organizer Angelo Herndon, who had been arrested for the possession of Communist literature arrived at the station to the greeting of thousands of well-wishers.

Made with a hybrid of CG imagery and staged photography, these scenes were re-created by Douglas over a four-day shoot in Vancouver, which involved over four hundred actors who were scanned and redressed in one of five hundred unique period costumes, before being posed digitally. Douglas arranged these nine vignettes into thematic panels, which are presented in the Foundation’s 465 Saint-Jean Street galleries.

With the series Disco Angola, Douglas takes on the persona of a fictional photojournalist living in New York City in the 1970s, who is a regular in the emerging disco scene and travels back and forth to Angola to cover the civil war. The works in the series are dated from 1974 and 1975, which was a critical period for the global political economy, marked by an oil crisis, a global market crash and increasingly strained relations between the US and Soviet Union. It is out of this bleak historical context that disco evolved. This important genre inspired by funk and soul music became heavily embraced by New York City’s Black, Latinx and queer communities as a joyful expression of emancipation from oppression. Douglas’s alter ego would travel back and forth to Angola to chronicle the country’s struggle for liberation from Portuguese rule.

Through intense research into archival photographs, period costumes and decor, Douglas crafted “snapshots” from each of these locations. The series consists of eight, large-scale panoramic photographs, four based in Angola and four in New York, which Douglas arranged into specific pairings that put forth a multitude of contrasts and comparisons.

In a time of ‘fake news’ and our own experiences with historical uncertainty, these two series are tethered by Douglas’s steadfast exploration of the many conceptual, formal, and technical rigours of the image, to assert that there is always more than one side to a story.

Stan Douglas will represent Canada at this year’s 59th Venice Biennale, taking place from April 23 to November 27, 2022.

The exhibition Revealing Narratives will travel to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax following its Montréal debut.

Biography

Stan Douglas Evaan Kheraj
Photo: Evaan Kheraj

Stan Douglas
Stan Douglas was born in 1960 in Vancouver, where he continues to live and work. He studied at Emily Carr College of Art in Vancouver in the early 1980s. He has had major solo exhibitions in cultural institutions all over the world including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Haus der Kunst in Munich, Pérez Art Museum in Miami, Studio Museum in Harlem, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Serpentine Gallery in London. His work is in many important collections, including at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; MoMA; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Guggenheim Museum, Tate.

Stan Douglas on Penn Station’s Half Century

Directed, filmed and edited by Nick Miller of Crowbait Pictures
Produced by and shared courtesy of David Zwirner

Events

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Marlon Kroll: Nesting – Installation

Mar. 16—May 22, 2022

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People’s History of the Internet: Online Workshop with Caroline Sinders

May 15, 2022

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Jazz progressions andy williams thumb

Jazz Progressions: An evening with Andy Williams

Apr. 27, 2022

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Nuit Blanche 2022: DESTA Finissage & DJ Set - Scott C

Feb. 26, 2022

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Education Program

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Group Visits and Online Discussions

Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives

Our online educational programming is available for the exhibition Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives, and can be adapted to your situation and needs. These online presentations are tailored for elementary, high school, CEGEPs, university and community groups.

→ Book now
Marlon kroll nesting thumb

Public Engagement Project

Nesting

Inspired by the sensations of inhabiting a body, Nesting is an installation conceived to be experienced from two points of view. Marlon Kroll’s installation will serve as the basis for a creative activity, which will be offered to groups after a guided visit of Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives, as part of weekend workshops.

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Activity Kit

Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives

This activity kit is addressed to children and youth, as well as the adults sharing their experience. It offers exploration of Stan Douglas’s artworks, as well as creative activities. It can be used as a family, in school or as a community group.

→ Download
Enmode creation

Creating at Home Series

Stan Douglas

The Creating at Home series offers two video vignettes where the PHI Foundation’s educators present art activities proposed in the Activity Kit — Stan Douglas.

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Installation Views

Articles

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When Disco Met Angola

By Zoe Compton, Kim Johnson, and Prakash Krishnan

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Ways of Approaching Stan Douglas’s Art

By Adrienne Johnson and Marie-Hélène Lemaire

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Audio Guide

  • Introduction - 451 Saint-Jean Street

  • G1 – Disco Angola

  • G2 – Disco Angola

  • G3 – Disco Angola

  • G4 – Disco Angola

  • Introduction – 465 Saint-Jean Street

  • G6 – Penn Station’s Half Century

  • G5 – Penn Station’s Half Century

  • G5 – Penn Station’s Half Century

» View Audio Guide transcripts

The PHI Foundation wishes to thank the David Zwirner Gallery for their descriptive texts of the series Penn Station’s Half Century which were used in the audio guide for this exhibition.

Catalogues

Ecransmotiles sylvaincampeau
Sylvain Campeau: Écrans motiles
ISBN: 9782760644526
$42
Stan douglas secret agent
Stan Douglas: The Secret Agent

ISBN: 9789491819384
$65

Stan douglas entertainment
Stan Douglas: Entertainment
ISBN: 9781894212342
$14

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