Douglas Gordon: Sharpening Fantasies at Blain/Southern


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When entering Blain/Southern Gallery, one can immediately hear metallic grinding noises and outlandish chanting filling the air, see rough hands shaped by long lives full of hard labor and exotic poisonous animals performing mesmerizing dances and read cryptic sentences written in hidden places.

The gallery space is located close to the very Potsdamer Platz that David Bowie had paid tribute to in his recently released single “Where are we now”. The visitors of the exhibition seem to ask themselves the same question when they follow Gordon’s powerful narrative to a variety of locations in the city of Tangier, like the tower of a mosque, the casbah, markets and rooftops. Even though Gordon’s pieces are very strong individually, they tell a much more powerful story when understood as pieces of a whole.

One work that stands out nonetheless is “Full Circle”. The video offers a 360 degree view of the city at dusk, turning and turning, always coming back to the deeply concentrated muezzin who is preparing for his prayer ritual, focusing on his hands. From the tower, Europe can be seen in the foggy distance. Seemingly close but so distant at the same time, a different reality altogether.

Gordon is a storyteller who understands the art of offering just enough of the narrative as to not destroy it’s mystery and to give the visitors enough space to create their own story. Titles like “The right hand won’t tell what the left has done”, “The nature of relationships between few words” or “Another unseen letter. Then another. And another. And yet another” are living proof of this. The artist plays with shadows, contrasts, mirror effects, sounds and hidden messages to really draw the visitors in and to add additional layers to his videos, which combine documentary and magical aspects. His pieces have completely taken over the spectacularly spacious rooms of the gallery, dissolving the borders between different sensory perceptions, turning “Sharpening Fantasies” into a truly holistic experience.

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