Photography credit: Installed for National Galleries of Scotland, 2006, photography A Reeve
An exhibition of work by the internationally acclaimed, Turner-Prize winning artist Douglas Gordon has opened at Caithness Horizons in Thurso and will run until 11 October 2014. The works on show – which include three video installations and one text piece – have recently been presented by Douglas Gordon to the ARTIST ROOMS collection, and are being shown for the first time since their acquisition.
This exhibition also forms part of GENERATION, a national programme taking place in the summer of 2014, which will celebrate the wealth of contemporary art that has developed in Scotland over the last 25 years. Over 60 venues across the country are participating in this unique programme. All exhibitions within GENERATION are FREE to visit. The opening of ARTIST ROOMS: Douglas Gordon in Caithness will help to mark the beginning of this hugely ambitious project.
ARTIST ROOMS is an inspirational collection of modern and contemporary art acquired for the nation by Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland through the generosity of Anthony d'Offay with additional support from funders, including the Art Fund. The ARTIST ROOMS tour programme, now in its sixth year, is showing at 18 museums and galleries across the UK in 2014. The tour is made possible thanks to the support of Arts Council England, the Art Fund, and in Scotland, Creative Scotland.
Born in Glasgow in 1966, Douglas Gordon rose to prominence among a generation of Glasgow-trained artists which emerged in the 1990s; he has since gone on to achieve huge international recognition, marked by major awards (including the Turner and Hugo Boss Prizes, and the Premio 2000 at the Venice Biennale), and by exhibitions in museums and galleries across the world. He now lives and works in Berlin. Remarkably, this will be the first time that Gordon has had a solo exhibition in the North of Scotland.
The work recalls the rivalry between the biblical twins Jacob and Esau, and religious imagery plays a significant role in Gordon's work. Looking down with his black, black, ee is a film dating from 2008, presented on three monitors, which features images of ravens, hopping around the vast chapel of the Palais des Papes in Avignon. In medieval art the symbolic presence of a raven on a roof was commonly used in the representation of witches, and the animal is traditionally associated with misfortune and death. Gordon has famously drawn upon the films of Alfred Hitchcock, and there are menacing echoes here of the of the director's uncanny thriller The Birds. The primary inspiration for the work comes from a Scottish poem, which describes a raven 'Looking down with his black, black, ee' on a group of children, and the artist appears to address the ways in which, even in our rational, scientific age, such malevolent associations remain embedded in our memories, and continue to affect the way we apprehend the world.
The Caithness exhibition will also feature another of Douglas Gordon's most memorable early video pieces, Film Noir (1995), as well as a more recent text piece I am the curator of my own misery (2010). All four works on show were donated by Gordon to ARTIST ROOMS in 2012, and are being shown as part of the collection for the first time.
Caithness Horizons will be running an education programme offering opportunities for visitors of all ages to engage with the exhibition in innovative and responsive ways. The programme will include a three-day workshop for children aged 7-14 led by contemporary artist Lucy Harrison, a programme for schools and a family day led by Scottish contemporary artist Kenny Hunter. This will include a talk on Gordon’s work and a trip to see Hunter’s work, The Unknown located in Borgie Forest.