Douglas Gordon: The Only Way out Is the Only Way in

31 May-03 Aug,







Critics' choice

Yes, he’s talking to you. An attention-grabbing Scottish artist arrives for a blockbuster show at ACCA

Visitors to the Douglas Gordon retrospective at ACCA from May 31 will find themselves walking straight into the middle of one of the most famous (circular) arguments in movie history. In Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, the 32-year-old Robert De Niro, playing nascent paranoid killer Travis Bickle, practises his tough-guy moves by interrogating himself in a mirror: “You talkin’ to me?” Gordon’s 1999 installation ‘Through a Looking Glass’ places the viewer uncomfortably between two screens playing the same scene: two Bickles locked in an aggressive standoff.

The piece is an example of the Scottish artist’s strategy at its simplest and strongest: tweaking an artefact from popular culture to affect the viewer in a new and powerful way. “He looks at how things can be shifted, slowed down, repeated, mirrored,” says ACCA associate curator Hannah Mathews, “to illustrate the construct of those things and make us conscious of how they’re built.”

Gordon, 47, is no stranger to these shores. He is currently exhibiting in the Biennale of Sydney – with a haunting piece involving two grand pianos, a vast gazing eye and the music of Rufus Wainwright – and gave the event’s keynote address in April. Back in 1996, the same year he won Britain’s Turner Prize, the Biennale showed ‘24 Hour Psycho’, Gordon’s signature work, in which the 107 minutes of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is projected at just two frames per second – an exercise in hyper-extended suspense.

The ACCA show presents six of the Berlin-based artist’s works from 1992 to 2013. For ‘Between Darkness and Light (After William Blake)’ (1997), two movies are projected onto opposite sides of a translucent screen so that they overlap. One deals with divine visions (1943’s The Song of Bernadette) and the other, demonic possession (1973’s The Exorcist). “It’s like a duel between good and evil,” says Mathews.

The show will climax with a text-based work that borrows from the tradition of the House of Horrors, inviting the viewer to consider what might be crossing their minds in the 30 seconds before death. “It’s a roller coaster,” Mathew says. “When you go into a good artist’s show, you hold on for the ride and are rewarded at the end.”

Photography and television monitors feature in other works, all of them utilising audience perception to create ambiguous scenarios. Gordon – a noted polymath who plays classical piano, acts in and directs films – actively fights against easy categorisation. “People always put you in a pigeonhole,” he told Vice magazine in 2011. “Why would you fly in on your own?”

Image: 'Through a Looking Glass' (two-channel video installation, 1999). Courtesy of Columbia Pictures. Photo: Ellen Labenski, Source: Guggenheim Museum.

Sign up to our monthly art newsletter

First published on . Updated on .

By Nick Dent   |  

Douglas Gordon: The Only Way out Is the Only Way in details

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art - ACCA

111 Sturt St

Southbank 3006

Telephone 03 9697 9999

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art - ACCA map

Restaurants near Australian Centre for Contemporary Art - ACCA

The Tea Room

563m - The Tea Room is part of the NGV serving a dozen kinds of cuppa including...


574m - One cannot live on art alone, so after filling your mind with the wonder of...

Eureka 89

636m - You will literally feel on top of the world, or at least the city, at the...

Bars & pubs near Australian Centre for Contemporary Art - ACCA

Maori Chief Hotel

566m - Many of South Melbourne’s fleet of old pubs have either been gussied up or...

Belgian Beer Café Eureka

641m - Little sibling of the Belgian Beer Café Bluestones, this indoor/outdoor...

Chill On Ice Lounge & Ski Lodge

663m - Have a rest from the hot weather this winter and chill at -10º in the...

Other venues near Australian Centre for Contemporary Art - ACCA

Chunky Move Studios

0m - Melbourne's famous contemporary dance company operates out of two...

Malthouse Theatre

9m - The venue in an old factory in Southbank is the home of Malthouse Theatre,...

Grant Street

234m - Melbourne, meet your new show-off spot. As of May 23, whenever you head to...

Readers' comments, reviews, hints and pictures

Community guidelines

blog comments powered by Disqus

© 2007 - 2014 Time Out Group Ltd. All rights reserved. All material on this site is © Time Out.