Douglas Gordon
The Left Hand Can't See That the Right Hand is Blind

Douglas Gordon’s single-channel video The Left Hand Can’t See That The Right Hand is Blind, captures an unfolding scene between two hands in leather gloves—at first seemingly comfortable to be entwined, and later, engaged in a struggle. As suggested by the work’s title, each of the hands assumes a character with a distinct personality, as if we were witnessing a lovers’ quarrel and embrace, or the embodiment of opposing forces of an internal struggle.


Gordon has previously created performance-based works depicting his own body or parts of it—arms, hands, fingers, eyes—usually enacting simple, repetitive movements. Hands, in particular, have held his interest due to their ability to evoke internal emotional states and express aspects of identity, sexuality, fetishism and even our ability to communicate. These characterizations suggested by simple movements reflect his ongoing interest in notions of the ego, and internal struggles—and are illustrative of the formal techniques of doubling and mirroring, which can be seen in several of his works.

Douglas Gordon is a celebrated Scottish artist whose work revolves around the themes of memory, time and our perception of it. Spanning across film, video, installation, photography, and sculpture, his work offers a new experience of the cinematic in the space of contemporary art, creating what critic Dominique Païni described as ‘exhibition cinema.’   Interested in how we experience temporality, Gordon has often slowed down either original or appropriated footage in order to play with the viewers’ perception. An example is his celebrated work 24 Hour Psycho (1993), in which Gordon stretched the duration of Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic movie to last 24 hours. This gesture both monumentalized time and intensified the imagery, structurally reframing the film by shifting our perception away from the movie’s original narrative and directing it towards the finer details that constitute every single frame.   Several of his works incorporate that universal dichotomies: of life and death, innocence and guilt, and dual identities. Harboring the tension between opposing forces, Gordon then employs formal strategies of repetition, mirroring, and doubling to construct a deliberate ambiguity and multiplicity of meaning.