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Stan Douglas: Le Détroit

November 6, 1999 - February 6, 2000

AWE Gallery

Le Détroit features a new film installation and exhibition of photographs by acclaimed multimedia artist, Stan Douglas. Based on several years of research and documentation in the Detroit area, Douglas interprets the social conditions that give rise to urban decay in modern cities, of which Detroit is an extreme example. His colour photographs disclose the dynamics of historical change. Far from cliché of Detroit as a sad necropolis, his images reveal that the erasure of history is ongoing and nature is ever-encroaching.

The film installation is inspired by this region’s longstanding identification with industry. It is an adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel, The Haunting of Hill House, and Marie Hamlin’s 1883 chronicle, Legends of Le Détroit – a compilation of oral histories that circulated among Aboriginal and European living in the region between the mid-17th and early-19th centuries. The soundtrack features music composed by Detroit electronic musician, Carl Craig, and programmed by San Diego electro-acoustic musician, Harry Castle.

Le Détroit relates to the artist’s fascination with failed utopias. Many of his works are concerned with exploring specific historic moments in relation to colonialism, urban development, and cultural memory.

He reinterprets the conventions of popular media – in this case, horror movies and electronic music – to assert the impact of technology on social imagination, further emphasized by innovative experimentation with formal devices.

Based in Vancouver, Stan Douglas has had a distinguished career since graduating from the Emily Carr College of Art in 1982. His work has been included in many important international exhibitions, and a touring retrospective organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery is currently on view in Toronto. He has been the subject of many publications, including a Phaidon monograph, and recently won the Gershon Iskowitz Prize.

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