Friday, 22 February 2013, 24:00 | midnight

#42: Douglas Gordon

Douglas Gordon is a conjurer of collective memory and perceptual surprise whose tools include commodities and mechanisms of everyday life. Into a diverse body of work—which spans narrative video and film, sound, photographic objects, and texts both as site–specific installation and printed media—he infuses a combination of humor and trepidation to recalibrate reactions to the familiar.

Douglas Gordon presents a rarely shown work:

Feature Film, 35mm film, 1999
In 1999, four giants clashed with each other: There is Alfred Hitchcock’s film classic “Vertigo” from 1958 and its legendary composer Bernhard Herrmann. Hermann became world-famous through numerous films – not least through Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. There is James Conlon, one of today’s greatest conductors as leader of the Los Angeles Opera Company’s orchestra. And there is the young artist Douglas Gordon.

Gordon is the virtuoso who marvelously analyzes, disassembles, and reassembles. He separates and extracts Hermann’s music from Hitchcock’s storytelling and pictures in “Vertigo”, and combines the suggestive music with the recordings of Colon’s directing of the orchestra of Paris Opera. Three cameras film the conductor – especially details like his eyes, face, and hands. Colon is Gordon’s principal actor. The orchestra with its 100 musicians is not visible, only audible. It is playing the original score of “Vertigo” in its full length. The conductor becomes the medium of the music.

Today, 14 years later, the conductor’s gesture, mimicry, and body language combined with the composer’s music, evokes its own pictures. The remembrance of “Vertigo” – of romantic obsession, of Isolation and the power of the unknown – fades away.


Douglas Gordon (b. 1966 in Glasgow, Scotland) lives and works in Berlin. From 1984 to 1988, Gordon studied at Glasgow School of Art, Scotland, and from 1988 to 1990, he studied at The Slade School of Art, London. Gordon has had numerous solo exhibitions including – just in the last years: La Collection Lambert en Avignon, France (2008); Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture, Moscow (2008); Van Abbe Museum, The Netherlands (2009); The Tate Britain, London (2010); Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Germany (2011); Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel (2013); Museum Folkwang, Germany (2013).Gordon’s film works have been invited to the Festival de Cannes, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF); Venice Film Festival; and Edinburgh International Film Festival among many others.

Gordon has received several awards including the Turner Prize, London (1996); Premio 2000, Venice Biennale, Italy (1997); Hugo Boss Prize, Guggenheim Museum SoHo, New York (1998); Roswitha Haftmann Prize, Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland (2008); and Käthe–Kollwitz–Preis, Akademie der Künste, Berlin (2012).

Douglas Gordon’s web site: