The Turner Prize-winning artist has also long been steeped in the avant-garde tradition of French cinema. “When Channel 4 started on the British T.V., I was working at a supermarket,” recalled Gordon. “I would get home after the twilight shift and fall asleep watching Francois Truffaut, Godard, Éric Rohmer, and Henri-Georges Clouzot.”
Gordon would save up for his first-ever trip out of Scotland, to London to visit the Tate, and on to Paris, at the age of 16. It was then that he also got his first taste of French politics first hand. “Me and some friends went out to a cafe in the Sixth Arrondissement, and lo and behold—you know, I had all these images in my head from the 1968 uprising—here was a real riot happening,” said Gordon. “And suddenly there were cars on fire, teargas. So we ran out the cafe and thought ‘It’s happening, let’s get involved.’”
Some 10 years later Gordon discovered the demonstration had actually been held by members of the country’s far right. “My French wasn’t very good, so unwittingly we’d gotten involved in the wrong side of the fence,” he said.
As the April 23rd elections in France approach, with Le Pen’s National Front party again on the rise, there are strong echoes of the right-wing protests Gordon encountered over three decades ago, he says. “There are a lot of posters up around Paris calling for people to demonstrate against elements within politics that are cracking down on cultural freedoms.”