I met Jonas when he was still a young man. I think he was 75 years old... I was intrigued with Jonas from the first moment I met him, maybe from the first thirtieth of a second or the first twenty-fourth of a second that I met him. That’s where my intrigue comes from.
Long before I met Douglas I met his films and they were exciting. I like them because they are so different from what I or anyone else is doing. His films open a totally new invisible window full of visual excitement. And I like Douglas himself, because he's always 200% himself, and is always unpredictable, like his films.
During Frieze London, from October 3 to 7, Gagosian Britannia Street will screen Douglas Gordon’s 2016 film I had nowhere to go: Portrait of a displaced person. The film is an intimate portrait of Jonas Mekas, the legendary poet, film critic, risk-taking curator, "the godfather of the American avant-garde cinema" —and, at 94 years old, among the remaining few to have escaped and survived Nazi persecution.
Recently shown at documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel, as well as a circuit of film festivals, I had nowhere to go has been celebrated for its sparse materiality, and its reflection on the narrative of history. Gordon’s film work has redefined expectations of the relationship between sound, text, time, and the moving image—as in his 1993 film 24 Hour Psycho, which stretched the duration of Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) from the traditional feature film length of 109 minutes to twenty-four hours.
By contrast, I had nowhere to go proceeds with one minute of real time per year of Mekas’s momentous life, including his journey from a forced labor camp and a displaced persons center during the Second World War, and his emigration from Lithuania to New York. The viewer is plunged into collective and individual spaces of memory via long, imageless stretches over which Mekas narrates excerpts from his memoir (from which the film takes its title). With an immersive sound environment and intermittent, fleeting images that stand in evocative juxtaposition to Mekas's anecdotes, Gordon's film reveals in its subject a puckish humor that outweighs despair, and an unabated curiosity for life that both illuminates and softens the sadness of his subject matter.
Douglas Gordon was born in 1966 in Glasgow, and lives in Berlin and Paris. Collections include Tate, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; MUSAC - Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich; QAGOMA, Australia; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Museum of Modern Art, New York. Institutional exhibitions include “Douglas Gordon: Timeline,” Museum of Modern Art, New York (2006, traveled to Malba - Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires); “Pretty much every film and video work from about 1992 until now,” British School at Rome (2007, traveled to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art); “Douglas Gordon. Between Darkness and Light. Works 1993—2004,” Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany (2007); Tate, London (2010); Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2011-12); “I am also ....,” Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel (2013); “Everything Is Nothing without Its Reflection – A Photographic Pantomime,” Museum Folkwang, Germany (2013); “Pretty much every film and video work from about 1992 until now,” Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris (2014); “the only way out is the only way in: Douglas Gordon,” Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2014); PRISMES, Paris Photo, Grand Palais (2016); Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (2017); and documenta 14, Athens (2017). Gordon’s film works have been invited to the Festival de Cannes; Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF); Venice Film Festival; and Glasgow Film Festival, among many others.