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Advance Fact Sheet: Douglas Gordon Show at Hirshhorn Feb. 12- May 9, 2004

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Exhibition Overview
Douglas Gordon’s first American retrospective makes an exclusive East Coast stop at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden beginning Feb. 12, 2004 and continuing through May 9. The exhibition includes large-scale projected video installations, text pieces, still photographs and filmed images on video monitors. Gordon’s recent major work “Play Dead, Real Time” (2002) will be an added special feature of the Hirshhorn presentation.

Gordon (b. Glasgow, Scotland/United Kingdom, 1966) often “sculpts” time, altering “ready-made” sources such as feature movies and archival footage. Darkness and light, the conflation of opposites, the tension between good and evil and doppelgänger imagery are key to his conceptual approach. The New York City-based artist has been the recipient of the Hugo Boss Prize (1998), the Turner Prize (1996) and the Venice Biennale Premio (1997).

“Douglas Gordon” was organized for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, by Russell Ferguson, deputy director for exhibitions and programs and chief curator University of California Los Angeles Hammer Museum. The Hirshhorn presentation will be organized by Director of Art and Public Programs and Chief Curator Kerry Brougher and Associate Curator Kelly Gordon.

Sampling of works

The show includes Gordon’s break-out work, a projected installation titled, “24 Hour Psycho” (1993), in which a radically slowed version of the Hitchcock classic is projected on a suspended screen.

In “Between Darkness and Light (for William Blake)” (1997), superimposed projections of “The Exorcist” (1973) and “The Song of Bernadette” (1943) relentlessly intermingle the images and soundtracks from both movies.

Gordon often uses his own face and body in his still photo works. In “Tattoo (1)” (1994), an edgy playfulness adds punch to the permanent message on his upper arm–“Trust Me.” “Monster 1” (1996-1997) is a double self-portrait. On one side of this photograph his face appears “normal,” while on the other his face is freakishly cello-taped.

“Play Dead, Real Time” (2002) is an epic work projected on two large, perpendicular screens and a nearby video monitor. A circling camera follows the routine of a lumbering elephant as she silently plods, rolls over, plays dead and struggles to her feet. 

Background on the Artist
Gordon’s performance-oriented collaborations became the focus of an emerging Glasgow art scene during the mid-1980s. He holds degrees from Glasgow School of Art (bachelor’s degree, 1988) and Slade School of Art (master’s of fine art, 1990). His work mines popular culture, references performance art, plays with the paradoxical nature of language and involves adopted personae.

Selected Programs (dates to be announced)

The museum will offer special 24-hour access to the exhibition in celebration of Gordon’s “24 Hour Psycho” (1993). This marathon will culminate in a free public program in the Ring Auditorium; Brougher will interview the artist. Other programs will include a gallery talk by exhibition Curator Russell Ferguson and a series of film interviews with the artist from 1996 to 2003. Inspired by the exhibition, the 20th Century Consort will perform “Running Backward,” a selection of works by modern composers. Consult www.hirshhorn.si.edu for dates and details. 

Exhibition Tour

The exhibition debuted at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in September 2001 and has traveled to the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver (spring 2002) and Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (spring 2003). 


The exhibition is made possible in part by generous support from Susan Bay-Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy, Catharine and Jeffrey Soros, The Thornton S. Glide Jr. and Katrina D. Glide Foundation, The Peter Norton Family Foundation, the MOCA Contemporaries and the New Media Project. Additional support for the exhibition catalog has been provided by Art for Arts Sake. 

The Hirshhorn’s presentation of “Douglas Gordon” is made possible in part by Aaron and Barbara Levine and with special funding from the Holenia Trust in memory of Joseph H. Hirshhorn.


A 184-page color, illustrated catalog ($42 available in the museum store) includes an interview with the artist and essays by Russell Ferguson and four other contributors.

The Hirshhorn

The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the nation’s museum of international modern and contemporary art. Permanent collections, changing exhibitions and education programs attract over 700,000 visitors

annually. The museum, open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, is located at Independence Avenue and Seventh Street S.W. Admission is free.

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