Tag Archives: The Secret Agent (Douglas)


“Jacques Derrida loved the word observe. He paid special attention to its root word, serve, which tied observation to respect, service, and deference. To observe something, he thought, was an act of humility. You gave yourself over to the details, gathering data and storing it in reserve for the future… *

Stan Douglas uses lens-based media to facilitate this kind of servitude to details. I mention Derrida not to overemphasize the theoretical structures at work in Douglas’ output (and there are many), but rather to point out that the production details Douglas wants viewers to notice in his work are many and fine, and require sustained concentration…. [His work] is an invitation to become curious: about the narratives that have brought Douglas’ subjects to his camera and to the viewer’s gaze; about the processes Douglas uses to make an image look the way it does; and about how his subjects have emerged from seemingly long-lost historical moments and ended up in his pictures.” — Katie Anania

This week, Stan Douglas will give the UCLA Department of Art Lecture at the Hammer.


Thursday, April 25, at 7:30 pm.

Hammer Museum

10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.

*See Jacques DerridaMemoirs of the Blind: The Self-Portrait and Other Ruins, translated by Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 23.

Stan Douglas, from top: Exodus, 1975, 2012, digital C-print mounted on aluminum; Malabar People series, Dancer, 1951, 2011, digital fiber print; The Secret Agent installation view, David Zwirner, New York, 2016, six-channel video installation, eight audio channels with six musical variations, color, sound, 53:35 minutes; Luanda-Kinshasa (2013, still, Jason Moran at left), single-channel video projection, color, sound, 6 hours, 1 minute; Abbott and Cordova, 7 August 1971, 2008, chromogenic print mounted on aluminum; Inconsolable Memories (2005, still), two synchronized asymmetrical film loop projections, 16 mm black-and-white film, sound, fifteen permutations with a common period of 5:39 minutes. Images © Stan Douglas and courtesy the artist, David Zwirner, and Victoria Miro.


The artist and professor Stan Douglas explicates our postmodern condition—our crossed lines of narrative in a post-metanarrative age—for his students at Art Center College of Design, and for the rest of us in works like his multi-channel video installation The Secret Agent (2016).

In 2014 Douglas—in collaboration with writer Chris Haddock and Canadian Stage—created Helen Lawrence, a postwar, film noir piece set in The Old Hotel and Hogan’s Alley in Vancouver. “Performing live on a stage that functions as a giant blue screen, Helen Lawrence’s cast of twelve are filmed and transported into 3-D environments, the combined elements virtual and real then projected on a transparent screen hanging in front of them.”*

The Los Angeles premiere of Helen Lawrence takes place this weekend in a CAP UCLA production directed by Douglas.


HELEN LAWRENCE, Friday and Saturday, October 13 and 14, at 8 pm.

ROYCE HALL, UCLA, Los Angeles.


J. Kelly Nestruck, Helen Lawrence review, The Globe and Mail, October 20, 2014.

Crystal Balint and Allan Louis in a Toronto production of Helen Lawrence. Photograph by David Cooper.

David Cooper