Photographs 2008-2013

20. March 2015 to 10. May 2015

Canadian Stan Douglas (b. 1960) is internationally acknowledged as one of the most original artists working within film and video. Now Nikolaj Kunsthal presents another aspect of his oeuvre, the staged photography with which Douglas has been working intensively in recent years.  

Exhibition opening March 19 2015 5-7 pm

The Nikolaj Kunsthal presentation “Stan Douglas: Photographs 2008-2013” features four monumental photographic series that have come into being in the period 2008 to 2013.

In his works, Stan Douglas focuses on cultural, political and social movements and events. His point of departure lies in specific historical occurrences. One picture thus takes as its starting point the brutal police crackdown on an otherwise peaceful sit-in in Vancouver on August 7 1971. Another work departs from the Canadian dockworkers’ struggle for the right to organise and for better working conditions at Ballantyne Pier in June 1935. However, both photographs contain slight displacements dismantling the notion of objective historiography.

Douglas’ photographic works make visible the contrast between the personal, subjective experience of a place, an era or an event and its official representation as historical fact. His works thus become an investigation of how photographs over time attain the status of official documents, rigidifying the way history is conveyed to us. Through photography Stan Douglas takes a critical look at our notions of identity, rebellion and the use of force, and the power of media images.  

There’s more truth in the lie than in the documentary” – Stan Douglas, The Guardian, 2014.

Photo: Abbott & Cordova, 7 August 1971 (2008), courtesy the artist, David Zwirner, New York/London and Victoria Miro, London. The photograph is a composite image of 15 different photos. From the series Crowds and Riots (2008).



Stan Douglas’ photographic works are less well known than his videos and films, but they are no less impressive.

In their scope of production, they resemble a film set with a large cast and extras, lighting, props and thorough digital post-production. Like his other works, they contain numerous layers of meaning and are situated at the crossroads  between fiction and fact.

The artist employs stylistic modes of expression from classic Hollywood movies, old murder mysteries, the golden age of jazz and film noir. He borrows narrative techniques from great authors and his works are composed on the basis of intense research into both the technical and stylistic means of expression of a given historical period.

In his series Midcentury Studio (2010-2011), which is included at this presentation, he thus takes on the identity of a nameless semi-professional photographer in the years immediately after WW2. In order to do so, Douglas has scrutinised nearly 6,000 photos within this category in order to mimic the development of this particular type of photographic genre. The images reflect the tabloids' hunger for new content as well as the cultural and photo-technical developments of the time. 

Stan Douglas immerses himself in the circumstances of photographic production at various points in history, investigating in his own work how modes of representation and narratives become iconic. At the same time, he opens up history itself to new stories, events and actors from specific historical contexts – post-war New York or New York and Angola in the 1970s being two examples in this exhibition.


Photo: Incident, 1949, 2010, courtesy the artist, David Zwirner, New York/London and Victoria Miro, London. The series Midcentury Studio (2010-2011) is a nod and a tribute to Canadian press photographer Raymond Munro and the self-taught American freelance photographer Arthur Fellig, better known as Weegee, and the style that characterised local reporting and news from the world of sports, fashion and not least the criminal underworld in the years 1945 to 1951.



Stan Douglas (b. 1960) lives and works in Vancouver, Canada. He graduated from the Emily Carr College of Art + Design in 1982.

Throughout his career, Stan Douglas has been a pioneer within the exploration of the technical, visual and narrative dimensions of film and video. Since the 1980s, he has produced film works, photographs and installations investigating historical events and sites. His works focus on the modes of expression, codes and techniques employed by film, TV production and press photos, while he himself also experiments with the most recent technologies and modes of expression.

This exhibition is the first major presentation of Stan Douglas in Denmark.

“Stan Douglas: Photographs 2008-2013" is presented in collaboration with Carré d'art – Musée d'Art Contemporain, Nimes, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin and Wiels, Centre d'Art Contemporain, Bruxelles.

Stan Douglas has participated at the Documenta in Kassel and the Venice Biennale several times. Venues that have produced solo exhibitions of the his work include: The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, The Power Plant, Toronto and Serpentine Gallery, London. Douglas' work is featured in the collections of, among others, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Museum of Modern Art, New York and Tate Gallery, London.