Christopher Phillips & Tommy Simoens
Vancouver photographer and video artist Stan Douglas has been celebrated since the late 1980s for his politically freighted retrievals of obsolete technologies and failed utopias. The emphatically narrative character of his films and photographs has made for comparisons with his Vancouver contemporary Jeff Wall, but Douglas also laces his work with a literary engagement, in references to works by Proust, Beckett and other writers. Midcentury Studio sees Douglas pursue a new direction. It chronicles the burgeoning discipline of press photography in North America during the postwar period, for which Douglas assumes the role of a fictional photographer, creating a series of images hypothetically produced between 1945-1951. Douglas constructed a “mid-century studio” using authentic equipment as well as actors to produce carefully staged, black-and-white photographs that painstakingly emulate the period's obsession with crime scenes, dance, gambling and technology. This volume juxtaposes actual photographs from the era with Douglas' superb photo-fictions.