Stan Douglas

Stan Douglas, Abbott & Cordova, 7 August 1971 (2008

In 2009, Douglas’ Abbott & Cordova, 7 August 1971, (2008) was installed in the central atrium of the new Woodwards complex. The 50 foot photograph is a recreation of the violence that erupted when police arrived in the area to break up a “smoke-in” of young people who had settled on occupying there in act of defiance against the numerous drug raids that had been occurring. Seventy-nine people were arrested and thirty-eight were charged with various offences. There was an immediate public backlash for the perceived brutality and the tactics of the police were highly criticized.

For his piece, Douglas meticulously combed through public archives, newspapers and police reports. He also conducted numerous interviews with those who lived and worked in the area. The scene, originally planned to be photographed on site, was carefully recreated with the use of archival photos down to the finest detail. In total, Stan Douglas spent six months researching the historical details. He’s said, he “wanted to know what was right, from the signage down to the garbage can”.

Stan Douglas, Abbott & Cordova, 7 August 1971 (2008). In Situ.

Investigating, revisiting and re-witnessing have become prominent themes in Douglas’ work from his series Klastassin, shown at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2009, a film and corresponding character photos depicting the conflict between first nations and settlers in the Cariboo mountains to his more recent investigations of the work of midcentury press photographers such as American Arthur Fellig aka Weegee known for his gritty news images. Douglas has created a fictional career for such a figure, shooting with authentic historical equipment, called the Midcentury Show it was exhibited in New York in March of 2011.

Stan Douglas, Incident, 1949 (2010).