Winter 2011-2012 Exhibitions

Winter 2011-2012 Exhibitions

The Power Plant

Stan Douglas, “Flame, 1947″ (2010).*

December 5, 2011

Winter 2011-2012 Exhibitions

9 December, 8–11 PM

231 Queens Quay West
Toronto, Ontario
M5J 2G8 Canada

Stan Douglas
Entertainment: Selections from Midcentury Studio
Curated by Melanie O’Brian, Curator & Head of Programs

Coming After
Pauline Boudry/Renate Lorenz, Aleesa Cohene, Glen Fogel, Onya Hogan-Finlay, Christian Holstad, Danny Jauregui, Adam Garnet Jones, Jean-Paul Kelly, Tim Leyendekker, Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay, James Richards, Emily Roysdon, Dean Sameshima, Jonathan VanDyke, Susanne M. Winterling
Curated by Jon Davies, Assistant Curator

Entertainment: Selections from Midcentury Studio, an exhibition of new photographs by Vancouver artist Stan Douglas, continues the artist’s practice of re-examining historic layers, specifically the imaging of postwar North American entertainment from show business to sporting events. Like Douglas’s films, which defy straightforward narrative expectations, the artist’s photographs complicate linear reading; Entertainment speaks to notions of history and reproduction, offering a partial portrait of a place and time.

In this work, Douglas assumes the role of a midcentury photographer who takes on various jobs from journalism to advertising. The subjects presented in Douglas’s project are part of period entertainment systems: the carnival, the cabaret, the hockey game, the cricket game, and the overall space of the nightclub (premiering at The Power Plant, Malabar People is a series of sixteen portraits of the patrons and staff of a fictional 1950s nightclub). The artist reconstructed a postwar photographic studio using authentic equipment and actors to produce staged photographs that emulate the period’s obsession with cinematic drama, magic, fashion, “caught-in-the-moment” scenes, and shifting technologies.

The works were shot in Vancouver, and although the locations are not always revealed, the city stands in for a midcentury every city. The images’ referents range from the specific to the general, pulling from a so-called archive of actual and imagined images. The images are sites of diversion away from daily labour, the depression and the war, making up an entertainment economy that came into its own in the era pictured (1946–51). The notion of entertainment is entwined with a postwar optimism, while at the same time inflected with darker ramifications of looking back, asking contemporary audiences to consider parallels in today’s cultural climate.

Coming After is a response to the recent renewal of interest in the period from the mid-1980s to early 1990s that was decisive for North American cultural politics. This span of time witnessed the Culture Wars, the birth of “queer” as an identity and theory, and the rise of an AIDS activist movement—epitomized by ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power)—fighting a new plague that was devastating communities of artists, queers and people of colour. While these years were highly traumatic, they also represented a galvanizing, dynamic moment for queer citizenship and for artists’ political engagement—one that is arguably haunting our present and our future.

Based in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Berlin, London, and Rotterdam, the artists in Coming After were primarily born after 1970. Rather than melding with the consumer-culture lifestyle that has been touted as GLBT citizenship over the past fifteen years or so, their work evidences a sense of having come after or missed out on something. The potential represented by both recent and faraway more visibly radical (queer) moments is both an open wound and a fount of inspiration. What was lost along the way from then to now? While sharing a certain queer sensibility, some of the artists’ works specifically reference historical figures and scenes from the past, while others more obliquely capture a sense of having arrived too late.

Negotiating their hope and despair about the present and future of our world in complex and compelling ways, the artists in Coming After share a sense of themselves as part of queer genealogies and cultural lineages, with influence and affinity moving across time and space.

*Image above:
Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York.

Winter 2011-2012 Exhibitions
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The Power Plant
December 5, 2011

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