In Monster (1996-97), the artist’s face becomes grotesque through the application of strips of transparent adhesive tape, typical of Gordon’s performance-based films that often depict his own body in action. Also characteristic of his work, the scene takes place in front of a mirror, suggesting the kind of personal self-reflection that one is capable of – both good and evil. The video makes clear cinematographic reference to the ‘alter-ego’ transformation in Mamoulian’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and to the “You looking at me?” sequence performed in front of a mirror by Robert De Niro in Scorsese’s Taxi Driver which also inspired Gordon’s through a looking glass (1999).
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.